Sunday, October 26, 2014


Oct 27, 2014
Luke 11:42  ". . . You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone. . ."

If you wanted to lose weight, you might consult the advise of a weight lose expert.  If you wanted to improve your golf swing, you might pay a hefty sum for a few professional lessons.  If you wanted to become an investment genius, you might take cue from a successful billionaire, following his example.  If you wanted to improve your marriage, you might go to a marriage class or two.  The point is, if you really wanted to improve upon something, you would listen to sage advice from the one deemed to know the most.  Fortunately, in a few areas of life, we have access to just that guru.  Jesus offers some professional advice, yet seldom do we take it.  There is no weight loss clinic set-up blue print found in the Bible, but Jesus does offer a few recommendations for being a successful Christian.

He was speaking to the Pharisees when He offered His sage words of wisdom.  And though the words were directed at the religious elite, they were meant to apply to anyone and everyone who would listen.  Jesus was condemning the religious elite for tithing on the tiniest leaf found in their herb gardens, yet failing to administer mercy.  The Pharisees were being literal on the tithe, a full tenth of everything in their possession but did not have mercy for the downtrodden.  Jesus said they were foolish for neglecting to be such sticklers in the areas of justice, mercy, and faith.  He said specifically to do better at justice, mercy, and faith, without forgetting to tithe a full ten percent.  Jesus actually said they needed to administer justice, mercy, and faith as well as give a full ten percent.  Some people think Jesus never reaffirmed the tithe as a ten percent in the New Testament, but He did.

The guru, Jesus, said that in order to be a successful Christian, we need to administer justice, have mercy on the weak, be strong in our faith all while tithing a literal ten percent.  Jesus didn't give a list of options, suggesting to pick what we like or are good at, but four items to fulfill in the fullest.  So often Christians like to do what is easy for them and think they are doing enough, but its not.  I've read these words of Jesus to the Pharisees in two different books of the Bible in twenty four translations.  They are the same all forty eight times; leaving no room for interpretation.  No clarification needs given and there is no wiggle room on what Jesus meant or was saying.  Anyone who can read the Scriptures for himself will come to the same conclusion as to what Jesus said.

Jesus said it; read it for yourself.  Jesus gave us the four keys to successful Christian living and it is up to us to put it into practice.  If your chosen guru gave you personal advice on achieving our goals and dreams, you would probably take it.  Jesus has given you exactly this.  You must put it into practice, without picking and choosing which ones you might follow.  If you don't follow weight lose advice, you won't lose weight.  If you don't follow the right investment advice, you won't be an investment genius.  If you don't follow the advice of Jesus, you won't be and can't be a successful Christian.  Its time to start listening to the expert and following His advise.  He knows what's best and would never lead you astray.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Matt 9:13, Matt 18:13, Matt 22:37, Matt 23:23, Mark 11:22, Luke 18:8

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Top Dog

Top Dog
October 20, 2014
2 Kings 3:11  "But Jehoshaphat asked, 'Is there no prophet of the Lord here, through whom we may inquire of the Lord?'"

The Lord never intended for humans to follow anyone but Him.  Unfortunately, the Lord knows man needs a hierarchy of leadership, simply to maintain order.  If everyone followed the Lord wholeheartedly, there would be no need for a leader, political OR spiritual.  The first leader in the Bible was Moses; He was a spiritual leader first and foremost.  As the nation of Israelites grew in size, it was necessary to give them more formal leadership.  The Lord allowed a king.  The first king was Saul, who was a spiritual leader as much as a political leader.  The second king was David, who was a spiritual leader as much as a political leader.  The third king was Solomon, who was a spiritual leader as much as a political leader.  But even these first three kings fell short of being a respectable leader at times.

Over time, however, the kings became less and less spiritual leaders; they became dictators.  Sadly, this happened in only a few short years, not centuries.  In fact, the kings fell so far away from being spiritual leaders, that they required prophets if ever they wanted to inquire of the Lord.  When reading the Old Testament, you'll notice the kings would get themselves into a pinch, then as a last resort they'd call for a prophet to inquire of the Lord.  The kings were so far from a relationship with the Lord that they could not hear His voice.  They didn't even know how to pray, let alone receive a word from Him.  Sadly, this is still true today of our leadership, certainly political leadership and sometimes even spiritual leadership.

We live in a time when political leaders refuse to have a strong public relationship with the Lord, lest they lose political constituents.  We live in a time when our church leadership gets so caught up in the politics of the position, that they too fall short of a perfect relationship with the Lord at times.  I imagine it's hard to be the top dog in any situation, the pressures of the people pulling you away from a relationship with the Lord.  At least in the Old Testament they still had prophets who would inquire of the Lord.  But today, who do we have today inquiring of the Lord for direction?  No longer are there spiritual leaders so great that they can speak on behalf of the Lord.  Yes, after Jesus, we all have the opportunity to become a spiritual leader, but few have ever followed in the likeness of the Apostle Paul even.  Some churches aren't even a reflection of the Bible, but of society and our worldly practices.

This presents opportunity in our spiritual leadership.  You and I have a duty to have a right relationship with the Lord so we may follow His direction and inquire of Him directly.  We must do this in every area of our lives, and let it affect our actions and choices, especially our political choices.  If our actions and choices would speak so loudly that we demanded political leadership to be spiritual leadership, our world would be a different place.  If our church leadership followed the Lord wholeheartedly, even through controversial decisions, our world would be a different place.  If our churches and businesses were filled with spiritual leaders our world would be turned upside down.  The top dog was always supposed to be a spiritual leader.  Maybe it's time YOU take on a leadership role?

Don't take my word for it; look it up: 
1 Sam 23:3-5, 1 Sam 28:5-7, 2 Kings, 1 Chron 10:13-14, Is 8:11, Jer 2:2-8, Jude 1:19

Saturday, October 11, 2014

No Miracle

No Miracle
Oct 13, 2014
Psalm 78:4  "We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done."

Miracles are amazing.  We've all seen one or two, maybe even experienced them ourselves.  There are times when we thought we needed a miracle, too, hoping the Heavenly Father would step in and defy the gravity of our situation.  But for every miracle we witness, it seems there are ten missed opportunities for the Lord to perform one for us.  I know I've seen the opportunity come and go, with the Lord deciding it wasn't time for a miracle.  Or maybe there is another reason why the Lord doesn't step in and defy gravity sometimes.  I've searched the Scriptures and have found something interesting every time a miracle happens.

Just in keeping to the New Testament for a moment, if there was a miracle performed by the Lord, then the Lord was given glory and news about Him and His mission spread. It seems the miracle was not just a healing ministry for the recipient or situation moving moment for someone else, but the Lord was honored and thanked, with a testimony ensuing.  A testimony is what the Lord appreciates when He is willing to defy gravity.  He wants you to honor and thank Him for the experience and He wants you to talk about it to others, declaring the Lord's amazing works in your life.  So often, we think our situation and miracle is isolated to us.  Nine such men thought their miracle was isolated to their desire for the miracle; they were not appreciative in the Bible.  Jesus healed ten men of leprosy, but only one thanked Him.  The nine men didn't thank Jesus so He chastised their actions, or lack thereof.  What a shame, to experience a miracle from Heaven only to be chastised by the Lord for not being thankful for it.  I doubt those men could have ever expected a miracle from the Lord again.

The Bible says we are to be thankful in everything, especially if making a bold request from the Lord.  If you are not thankful going ahead of the miracle, are you really going to be thankful after one has happened for you?  Sure, maybe you'll appreciate it for five minutes, but a year later are you still going to brag about the Lord's goodness to you?  Are you going to tell about it, declaring the Lord's amazing works in your life?  Are  you going to be thankful to the Lord for the rest of your days?  Are you going to share the experience with others right away and even ten years later; will you still be talking about it when you're old?  If you've experienced a miracle years ago, are you still appreciative and talking about it now?  It would be a good idea to revisit the miracles you've experienced, talk about it with others and declare the goodness of the Lord in your life.  Develop an appreciative attitude about the things the Lord has already done for you in your life.  Make a list of all the good things the Lord has done in your life and determine to share it with five or six people, making a purposeful effort.  Notice what happens when you do this.

In the Bible, a few times it was appropriate to keep the miracle a secret, because of safety's sake and the need for discretion to reduce the crowds.  But it had the opposite effect.  No where in the Bible is it recorded that a miracle recipient was able to keep it a secret.  In fact, it seems when they were asked to keep it under wraps, the news of it just spread like wildfire even more.  It is a natural response to a life-changing moment.  You have to talk about it.  If you've had a life-changing moment from the Lord, and you haven't talked about it in a while, even acknowledging it private between you and the Lord, maybe it is hindering future life-changing moments from the Him?  I'm not an expert in making miracles happen, otherwise I'd have more of them in my own life.  But I do know a thankful heart, being willing to share what the Lord has done is a critical piece of the miracle equation.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:
  Ps 105:2, Ps 107:22, Is 63:7, Matt 4:24, Matt 9:31, Mk 1:43-44, Lk 17:11-17, Phil 4:6

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Give to Get

Give to Get
Oct 6, 2014
Luke 6:38  "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

The Bible teaches reciprocity very clearly.  You will reap what you sow.  If you sow hatred then you will reap a harvest of it.  If you sow kindness then you will reap kindness in return.  The Bible also says that if you give to others, then it will be given back to you, with an additional helping on top.  It is important in reading scripture to understand how and why it teaches about reciprocity and giving, though.  Many people have not received back what was sown, which makes the teaching controversial, putting its validity into question.  It looks bad on scripture and makes people doubt the Lord and His Word.

When the Bible introduces reciprocity, it does so from a logical perspective, telling how things work, not necessarily making recommendations.  It is similar in teaching about gravity.  Gravity is a law of nature that works very distinctively.  The Lord's teaching about reciprocity is much the same way, describing a law of His nature.  If you do this, then xyz will be the result.  It never says you should do something just because you want xyz to happen.  In learning fully about reciprocity, you must dive deeper into Scripture, other than the introductory course on gravity.  The Bible teaches about kindness for the sake of being kind, not because you want to only be treated kindly.  The Bible teaches about forgiveness because it is good and healthy to forgive, not simply because you want to be forgiven.  There is a heart issue involved if reciprocity will work correctly.  If your heart is selfish in your motive for giving something, then your return will be void.  If you are only giving because you will GET, then you've missed the teaching entirely.

It is true the Lord will not unleash reciprocity in your life unless you have sown the correct item, however, it must be sown correctly.  Giving to get something in return is not giving, it is a bribe.  You cannot bribe the Lord or the Lord's kingdom.  The Bible is clear that a bribe comes from a selfish heart, one the Lord refuses to honor.  The Lord will not be bribed and the Lord will not be held hostage to a faulty understanding of reciprocity.  If you haven't received back from that which was sown, check your motives in sowing it in the first place.  Chances are, you are keeping score, tallying up what you've given, waiting for the gifts to return to you in full force.  It ain't gonna happen.

Even if you've give with generous motives, if you look for your reward, then you still missed the boat, not fully understanding the Lord.  The word "give" means to push it away from you knowing it will not return.  If you are looking for the return of it, then you didn't give it, you were trying to lend it.  Giving in the Lord's kingdom means pushing something away from you that you should not expect to see again.  If you do see it returned, great, but if not you should still be glad you gave.  If you've ever regretted giving, then you gave with the wrong motives.  The Lord says He loves a happy or cheerful giver, those are the only ones for whom I've ever seen reciprocity work correctly.  They were glad to be rid of whatever they were giving away.  They didn't hold tightly to it; they were glad to see it go.  They are the true givers.  If you hold tightly to what you're giving, then you aren't really giving it.

Here is a tip in giving; don't keep track of what you give.  In fact, forget you ever gave it and do it with a smile on your face being glad to get rid of it.  If you see it in return, then be genuinely and overwhelmingly shocked.  This way you'll be a cheerful giver and reciprocity will then work correctly, knowing you never demanded it to come your way again.  If reciprocity didn't work for you, then your measure of giving wasn't giving at all.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Pr 17:8, Gal 6:7, 2 Cor 9:5