Sunday, June 26, 2011


June 27, 2011
James 4:7 "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."

Resist the devil and he will flee from you! That is so much easier said than done. In fact, we want to be tempted by him; we like it. Somehow it gives us permission and an excuse to engage in sin. Satan tempts us and we give in to it; it is a familiar cycle. He tempts us to do things we want to do anyway. Without Satan tempting us, we probably wouldn't do half the things we know are wrong. It is far easier to give in to temptation than it is to resist it. Resisting takes fortitude, will-power. Resistance to temptation takes a strong person who can stand up to the blowing forces of a hurricane-like devil. Or so we think. I would submit to you that resistance does NOT take will-power or a strong person, but simply a smart person with only a little bit of effort. In fact, if you rely on will-power alone to resist the devil, you will eventually fail and feel miserable about it.

Recall Adam and Eve in the garden. When they were tempted by the serpent, he twisted the truth to convince them to sin by eating the forbidden fruit. He told them that the fruit would make them god-like. The fruit was the "knowledge of good and evil," which IS a quality the Lord possesses. But Adam and Eve thought they would have far more god-like powers by the way the devil made it sound. They caved in to his temptation, not because they weren't strong enough, but because they did not combat him with the right argument, nor did they even try.

Fast forward a few thousand years and you find Jesus alone in the wilderness, where He had fasted for 40 days. (He was fasting and praying because He was stressed about His coming trials and pending crucifixion on the cross, something He wasn't super excited about going through.) The devil came to tempt Him, to see if He would give in to sin. The devil declared that Jesus could have all the riches and power in the world if only He would bow down and worship Satan. Jesus did not give in to temptation that day, but He didn't resist by will-power alone. He wasn't even able to resist simply because He was a strong person (He was weakened from not eating for 40 days AND He was anxious about His coming death). Jesus resisted the devil by Truth and the Knowledge of the one true Lord. This was not a super-spiritual act that we have to emulate in order to resist temptation. Jesus refuted the devil's temptation with His head, not His fortitude.

Jesus resisted Satan by speaking the words, "Man shall not live by bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." Jesus wasn't using some crazy trickery to refute the devil; He was quoting scripture found in Deut 8:3. He was quoting scripture that talks about being humbled and submitted to the Lord. Jesus' denial to engage in Satan's temptation was a logical action of rationale, not a nervous and trepidatious wringing of the hands to escape it by the skin of His teeth. Jesus had armed Himself with the Word of the Lord and stuck to it because He believed it as the Truth. Adam and Eve, on the other hand, did not stand on the Word of the Lord, which they didn't believe anyway. Had Adam and Eve actually believed the Lord's words as truth, they would NOT have given in to temptation. They would have argued against Satan's words, refuting them with the Word of the Lord! The fight then against temptation is a knowledge of the Lord's truth and using it to resist the devil's schemes. It doesn't take fortitude, only knowledge and a bit of effort.

If you find yourself giving in to temptation, you haven't armed yourself with enough of the Lord's truth OR you don't actually believe what you already know. Either way, you're doing yourself a dis-service and only trying to deny temptation by will-power or staying strong. The Bible says to humble yourself to the Lord's ways then resist the devil; Satan will flee from you. Resist him with the Word of the Lord, which you learned in the times you truly submitted to Him. If it worked for Jesus, it will work for you and me.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Gen 3, Deut 8, Matt 4, Luke 4

Sunday, June 19, 2011


June 20, 2011
Hebrews 5:12 "In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!"

Everything in this world can now be adjusted to fit your exact lifestyle. You can customize anything you want to have it EXACTLY the way you want it. Manufacturers have worked hard to give you many options in order to entice you to purchase from them. You can have your salsa mild, medium, or hot. You can have ANY option you want on your vehicle to suit your preferences. You can make your smart phone a one-of-a kind to fit your personality. EVERYTHING is adjustable and customizable. We have grown accustomed to this as a culture, not letting anyone else or anything else dictate who we are or what we do. We are free to choose and free to be whoever we want! I wonder, though, if diagnosed with cancer, if you would choose your own personal and customized dose of medication needed. OR would you take what was recommended by the professionals for the best possible outcome? It sounds silly, but you and I do this on a daily basis.

Every day, we chose how much of the Lord we want in our life. Every day we customize our dose of Christianity to suit our lifestyle, to make it comfortable, to make it our own. Every day we decide how much sin is acceptable and which ones we are going to hang on to, keeping what makes our lives our own. Don’t let someone ELSE dictate what we can and cannot do, this goes against everything we live for or have worked hard to implement for our lives! We hear messages in our church that the Lord accepts us for who we are, challenging us to stay the same; the Lord can just meet us where we are, right now. The Lord loves us just the way we are today, no need to improve on it, right? If the Lord accepts us, then He must accept our lifestyle, we reason. But this is not actually so.

Yes, the Lord accepts you for who you and are how you are today, IF this is your starting point with Him. But once you start a relationship with the Father, you are then put on a track of being made more into His likeness. This is not an option and there is no customizable Christianity. You cannot chose which of the Lord's doctrinal truths to implement in your life and which ones to ignore. You cannot decide what you want for your life if it differs from what the Lord wants. When you were a child, you lived and acted like a child, but when you became an adult, hopefully you put childish things behind. This is how it is with your Christian walk. You cannot live on baby’s milk forever; you must mature into eating meat to survive. Your spiritual journey is the same. It must be a path of constant maturity, constant refinement, constant surrender of what you want and a submission into what makes you Christ-like. There is no customizable menu here, there is only what the Lord wants, what He asks of you.

Listen to what the Lord says of you if you try to customize your own Christianity. He says you are medium, neither hot nor cold. And His EXACT words: “I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” The tone and verbiage the Lord uses when He says this is akin to vomiting. Your lifestyle, should you chose to customize it to make your Christianity “medium” will cause the Lord to vomit. It sounds harsh, but it is how He feels. Begin today, putting your life in the Lord’s hands, asking Him to show you the areas of your life where you are trying to customize. Then, surrender those things to Him. I don’t think you’ll be surprised; you’re already thinking of those few areas you need to submit to Him! It's time to start living by ALL of the Lord's words, not just a select few when it is convenient.

If you need a fresh start, He'll give you one, but remember this time to mature with no holds barred. Even the most devout Christian has something to improve upon. I know I have lots of areas needing improvement.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: 1 Cor 3:2, 1 Cor 13:11, 1 Cor 14:20, Heb 5:13, 1 Peter 2:2, Rev 3:15-16

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Stuff and Other Baggage

Stuff and Other Baggage
June 13, 2011
Philippians 3:20 "But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ . . . "

There is a joke about a man trying to take his gold with him to Heaven but the angels laugh at him, wondering why he would want to bring pavement into Heaven. It is an interesting idea, but a concept hard to understand, that things SO important to us here on earth really don't matter. Even devout Christians get confused at times with what REALLY matters in life. It is easy to do when you spend so much of your time toiling at work just to pay the bills. You forget what bills and expenses are actually and truly necessary, with everything else a waste of time. I know I get caught up in this occasionally, with desires in life that have no eternal value. The things I want in life: stuff, status, or satisfaction are often just unnecessary baggage that I cannot take into Heaven with me.

In fact, the Bible is VERY clear about what makes it into Heaven with you. You cannot take your car, or your boat, or your home, or your clothes, or your fame, or your pride into Heaven with you. You cannot take your social life or your successful career into Heaven. There is no room in Heaven for those things and they won't even matter anyway. If you try to have all those things in this life, then you must realize they are in vain, generating absolutely NO heavenly value. If they are pointless in Heaven, then they are pointless to have with you on this earth. It is junk that simply weighs you down. Luggage is often heavy. If it isn't completely necessary, my advice is to let it go, it will just slow you down in this life. This is easier said than done. Extra baggage will keep you from what really IS important and what WILL make it into Heaven with you.

The only things you can take into Heaven with you are your actions, your good deeds for the Lord. The Bible declares that we are strangers in this world and our only home is in Heaven with the Lord. We are not to be of this world; we are simply here for a short while. Your good deeds will not earn your entrance fee into Heaven, that was bought with the blood of Jesus Christ. But your good works will be there, as your lasting legacy for what you did on this earth for the Lord. You are a foreigner here, so act like it. If you think of a foreigner in your land, he usually has strange customs and behaviors unlike your own. This is how you are to be at all times, living like a stranger in this land. Your behavior should be different. Your values should be different. The stuff that you purchase or cling to in this world should be different. No one says you should be a freak, but your peculiarity should make you stick out a bit. This is not your natural habitat and it should show.

You were sent here on a mission, to show yourself approved unto the Lord. Baggage will only make it harder for you to accomplish what you are supposed to do for Him. Your longing should be for Heaven and eternity with the Savior, which will influence your actions right here, right now. Show me how you live and I will show you what is important in your life. Don't fit in, it will make you look good in Heaven's eyes! If you have extra stuff, get rid of it; you won't need it where you are going!

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Ps 119:19, Philippians 3:15-21, Heb 11:13-16, James 4:14, 1 Peter 2:11-12

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Intended to Soar

Intended to Soar
June 6, 2011
Revelation 4:11 "'You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being'"

My children took a recent field trip to the local zoo and had so much to tell me when I arrived home from work. They told me about seeing the polar bear, the elephants, and the flamingos. They told me about how much fun it was to ride the tram and the merry-go-round. They told me about everything they learned and wanted to further explore through books at the library. What a great educational opportunity my children experienced that day! But then they told me about a disappointment they had while discovering the Lord's animal kingdom through the zoo. They were concerned for a bird that looked very sad and dejected. Upon further investigation, I came to understand that the bird was actually Africa's largest bird of prey, though my children didn't get to see how big it really was. In fact, the bird held its back to the visitors that day and was kept in an enclosure so small that it could not fly. It couldn't even spread it wings, which would have been nine to ten feet wide.

Zoos can be a fantastic way for visitors and young minds to explore the Lord's creation, but it certainly was disappointing for this particular bird. This bird was intended to soar. It was designed by the Lord Almighty to fly high above the tree tops in Africa as an important part of the food chain. But sadly, this bird will never fulfill what it was designed to do by the Creator of the Universe. This bird will not get to experience the one thing for which it was intended. It had a right to be dejected, keeping its back towards the visitors that day. Being held captive, it will never fulfill its intended purpose of bringing glory and honor to the Lord. Though I have never been held in a cage with my wings clipped, I do understand what it feels like to live life not being allowed to do what the Lord intended. Maybe you have experienced this as well; maybe you feel as if there is some greater purpose for your life than you can see right now in your situation.

For some of you it is beyond your control, as circumstances have caged you, keeping you from spreading your wings. For others it might be that you have chosen not to live the life God intended for you. It is also possible you don't even know what you should be doing. In any case, you SHOULD be functioning with the gifts and talents the Lord has blessed you with and doing so for His glory. That is why you were created, to bring glory and honor to Him. When you function with your natural talents and do so in a manner that is pleasing to Him, you will find all the fulfillment in the world, as this is your true act of worship to your Creator.

The Lord designed you, specifically you, with your exact talents, abilities, strengths, and gifts. You were intended for a reason and have an important contribution to make with all the talents the Lord has given you. It is your responsibility to use those for Him and for His purposes. This brings Him such tremendous joy, to see you when you are flying high above the tree tops doing what you were created to do. You were intended for greatness, to do wonderful things on display before an audience of ONE. You were intended to soar.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Gen 1:31, Matt 3:10, Luke 19:11-26, Luke 19:40, Romans 11:29, I Cor 12, Col 1:16