Wednesday, 30 May 2012
What would you do if…..? Now there’s a question! What would you do if you had an opportunity? What about an opportunity to please God or an opportunity to sin?
Maybe you know where I’m headed now. What is the difference in your heart’s intent and your actions? Now, I can hear some of you say this….”But, I didn’t do it! I would never cheat, lie, steal, commit adultery or plan to willfully sin against God.” Is there a difference between what is in our hearts and the action we take?
There is a difference between the act of sin and being tempted.
I’ve heard many folks, some being professing Christians, say that “they sinned all day long.” I had a difficult time understanding what they meant, but I discern that most of time these people could not differentiate between temptation and the act of sin, but I still remember several verses about the condition of the heart. The Lord instructed the Prophet Samuel in I Samuel 16:7 “to not look on the countenance, height or stature (of the potential King of Israel) for the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Jeremiah 17:9 declares, “the heart is more deceitful than all else and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (NASB). Our heart, absent of the Holy Spirit’s guidance is indeed wicked, deceitful and sick.
Do you remember when Jesus asked the religious crowd, “He who is without sin, throw the first stone… (at the woman caught in the very act of adultery.) Jesus knew the Law very well and understood the consequences. He knew what the Law recommended for the woman’s actions. What He was addressing that day was the observer’s hearts. Jesus knew that it was possible that if they had the opportunity they would participate in that same sin. (and I think they may have known it also since they decided to drop their stones) Jesus knew that their hearts were deceitful and sick. Jesus addressed the intent of their heart. Again, there is a difference between the very act of sin and temptation, but Jesus was definitely sending a message to the crowd that day (and us today) that what is in our heart matters to God.
King David certainly had his shortcomings. Remember: King David was an adulterer and murderer. The Prophet Nathan confronted King David and David agreed that he had indeed sinned against God. King David’s actions were evident, but did you know that God called him “a man after His own heart?” (Acts 13:22).
Are you a person after God’s own heart? I challenge you today to examine your heart and its motives. What awakens you each day to face the challenges of life? What are your innermost thoughts and desires? These are certainly questions that only you can answer, not your husband or wife…only you.
Remember that God already knows your heart very well. He knows if He can trust you. The beauty today is that He wants to be at the very center of your heart! God wants His desires to be your desires. Ask Him today to touch your heart so that you can please Him. Don’t get caught up in the religious answer of “I didn’t do it, or I’d never do that….” That answer is simply of a self-righteous tone, just like the observers that afternoon who were ready to stone the adulteress. Ask God to deal with your heart today. He will do so and you too can be a person that is after the heart of God.
Tuesday, 29 May 2012
The time is quickly approaching when I will once again enjoy a great tasting home- grown tomato! I think you will agree that a home-grown tomato is hard to beat.
It is certainly one of the joys of summer! Have you ever experienced a really bad tomato that you bought from the grocery store? Sure you have! I can usually find one of those sometime in January. There is a difference in a good piece of fruit and a bad piece of fruit.
Jesus said as it is recorded in Matthew 7:20 that “Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them.” It doesn’t take much discernment to look at a home-grown tomato and compare it to the store bought version. The passage in Matthew 7 really addresses how we all produce fruit and we will be known by what we produce. It is my hope that I am producing good fruit that others can see and examine! We are sure to know that we are not judges….there is only One Judge and that is our Father in heaven; however we can be “fruit inspectors.” We will know others by the fruit they produce and likewise we will be known by the fruit we produce.
As a Christian, we should be producing good fruit. People should see the character of Jesus Christ in us as we demonstrate His love to everyone around us. With each breath, we should be drawing closer to the Lord and becoming more like Jesus. The fruit produced in our life should be so sweet that it causes others to draw near that they might experience the goodness of God as demonstrated through us!
Lord, please help us to take a truthful look at the fruit being produced in our lives.
After seeing the truth and coming to recognize areas in our lives that produce bad fruit, please help us to purge those bad places from our character so we can start producing good fruit in every part of our lives.
Ask Jesus today to help you produce good fruit….and remember Pastor Roger when those home-grown tomatoes start ripening!
Have a blessed day!
Friday, 18 May 2012
We have been abundantly blessed and challenged in our recent Wednesday evening Bible studies. We have been enjoying the video series “A Heart Ablaze” by John Bevere. Each week we have been challenged to live a life of passion for our Lord. The contrasts have definitely been made between an intimate relationship with God and the mundane religious activities. Unfortunately, we have been too often fooled by the trappings of these religious activities of just going to church or being baptized or doing good works. We think that just because we participate in these religious exercises that we please God.
John Bevere brought out an excellent point in our recent Bible study regarding Matthew 25: 1-13. This passage is called “The Parable of the Ten Virgins.” “Then shall the Kingdom of Heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise and five were foolish. They who were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go you rather to them who sell, and by for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they who were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But He answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of Man cometh.”
These 10 ladies were virgins. Notice that Jesus didn’t call them whores or adulteresses. He called them virgins. This would indicate that Jesus was addressing those who were following Him. I would say today that we could call these same ladies Christians or followers of Christ. This parable is describing who we call the church. This parable is not describing those who do not confess Christ. There were five wise virgins and five foolish virgins which is indicative of modern Christianity. The virgins slept and at midnight Christ called out to them. This would describe the coming Rapture of the Church. All these virgins arose and trimmed their lamps, but for those without the oil, the trimming was useless. The trimming of the lamps without oil was nothing more than a religious activity without the Holy Spirit. Did you notice that 50% of the virgins ran out of oil? They asked the other 50% to give them some oil, but it was too late! Instead of being ready with plenty of oil, they were wasting their time with the religious activity of trimming their lamps. The foolish virgins then went out to buy some oil and at that time the bridegroom came. The wise virgins were ready and they went with the bridegroom to the marriage. The scripture says that the door was shut. While the foolish virgins were again practicing their religious activity by trying to buy more oil they sadly found out that the marriage had started without them. They asked the Lord to open the door, but were refused entry by Christ himself. Because they were religious, they thought they were saved, but they were not. Christ clearly answered them and said, “I don’t know you.”
Could this possibly be true of the church today? Could it possibly be that as much as half of those professing Christ with religious activity really don’t know Him?
Thursday, 10 May 2012
This Sunday is recognized as Mother's Day. We will take this opportunity to acknowledge and honor our mother's. I believe a mother is the most influential person in the life of a son or daughter.
The love of a mother is one of the most precious gifts from our Father above.
I recently enjoyed this article written by Pastor John MacArthur on "The Profiles of a Godly Mother."
I hope you will enjoy this article as well.
I once came across an interesting article on motherhood by a man named W. L. Caldwell written back in 1928. Here's what he said:
Well may we pause to pay honor to her who after Jesus Christ is God's best gift to men, mother. It was she who shared her life with us when as yet our members were unformed, into the valley of the shadow of death she walked that we might have the light of life. In her arms was the garner of our food and the soft couch for our repose. There we nestled in the hour of pain; there was the playground of our infant glee.
Those same arms later became our refuge and stronghold. It was she who taught our baby feet to go and lifted us up over the rough places. Her blessed hands plied the needle by day and by night to make our clothes. She put the book under our arm and started us off for school. But best of all, she taught our baby lips to lisp the name of Jesus and told us first the wondrous story of a Savior's love.
Caldwell went on to say, "The pride of America is its mothers. There are wicked mothers like Jezebel of old. There are unnatural mothers who sell their children into sin. There are sin cursed rum soaked and abandoned mothers to whom their motherhood is the exposure of their shame. I am glad to believe, however, that there are comparatively few in this class."
Is that true? Are there merely a few unfaithful mothers? Maybe that was the case in 1928, but it's sadly not so today. High rates of illegitimacy and divorce reveal the contemporary abandonment of marriage--motherhood's foundation. Annual abortions number in the millions, which shows the heart of many mothers has grown cold.
Millions of children whose mothers allow them to see the light of day cower in fear under angry abuse. And countless are the mothers who ignore, neglect, or abandon their children in pursuit of self-centered "fulfillment"--motherhood is an inconvenient interruption to their lifestyle.
For better or worse, mothers are the makers of men; they are the architects of the next generation. That's why the goal of becoming a godly mother is the highest and most noble pursuit of womanhood. God has specially equipped women for that very purpose, and in Christ, women can experience profound satisfaction in that divinely ordained pursuit. They can be who God created them to be.
Ladies, please pay attention. There are so many who would capture your interests today, to tear you away from God's high calling on your life. "Focus on your career," "Buy more stuff," "Pamper yourself"--you've heard it all, I'm sure. Don't buy what they're selling--it's all a lie.
With that in mind, I want to encourage you this Mother's Day to consider one biblical example of motherhood. It's Hannah, the mother of the prophet Samuel, an emblem of the grace of womanhood. You can read all about her in 1 Samuel 1 and 2.
Hannah became a mother by faith. In the opening verses of 1 Samuel, she is introduced as a childless woman. But God granted her a precious gift and she became the mother of one of the greatest men who ever walked the earth. As you follow this account, you'll see the profile of a godly mother.
Devoted to Her Husband
Contrary to popular opinion, the most important characteristic of a godly mother is her relationship, not with her children, but with her husband. What you communicate to your children through your marital relationship will stay with them for the rest of their lives. By watching you and your husband, they are learning the most fundamental lessons of life--love, self-sacrifice, integrity, virtue, sin, sympathy, compassion, understanding, and forgiveness. Whatever you teach them about those things, right or wrong, is planted deep within their hearts.
That emphasis on marriage was very evident between Elkanah and Hannah. They were dedicated to the faithful worship of God (1:3), and they were dedicated to loving one another (1:4-8). Their situation--being unable to have children together--was like an open wound. But it was an experience that drew out of Elkanah tender expressions of love for his wife.
At a particularly low point in Hannah's discouragement, Elkanah comforted his wife with these words: "Hannah, why do you weep and why do you not eat and why is your heart sad? Am I not better to you than ten sons?" (1:8). That may not seem like a tremendous comfort to you, but he was appealing to the satisfaction they enjoyed in their marriage. Notice the effect: Hannah was encouraged--she started to eat and drink again (1:9), and she went to the temple to seek the Lord (1:9-11).
That's the kind of marriage to which a godly mother is devoted--dedication to loving God, dedication to loving one another. That's the soil where godly mothers grow and flourish.
Devoted to Her God
Hannah struggled through acute pain and adversity. She was barren, she had to share her husband with another woman--one who could produce children, and she had to endure the pain of that woman's cruelty (1:6-7). And though Hannah was tempted to despair (1:8), she received the encouragement of her husband, turned to the Lord, and poured out her heart to Him in humble devotion (1:9-18).
Like many women today, Hannah struggled with the pain of infertility. She wanted God's best, to be a mother. In her sadness, Hannah didn't complain to her husband--there was nothing he could do about it--and she didn't fight back when Peninnah tormented her. Instead, Hannah trusted God through prayer.
That's a beautiful characteristic. She understood that God was the source of children, that God alone could alter her sterility. Her distinctive virtue was her constant faith.
First Samuel 1:12
says, "It came about as she continued praying before the Lord". Her prayers were constant. She stayed there praying with a broken heart, pouring out tearful prayers. Hannah knew where to go with her problems.
Hannah was quite different from many today who long for children; she wasn't seeking a child for her own fulfillment. Childless parents today spend millions on infertility treatments--medications, special diets, egg-harvesting, even in-vitro fertilization. They worry and fret and sin in their continued anxiety.
Not Hannah. Hannah was willing from the start to give the child back to God, for life (1:11). It wasn't about her. It wasn't about getting what she wanted. It was about self-sacrifice, giving herself to that little life to give him back to the Lord. After coming to that place in her heart, after expressing her desires to the Lord in prayer, she experienced the peace of humble devotion to God. She "went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad" (1:18).
Devoted to Her Home
According to His perfect will, God gave Hannah a son--Samuel.
And Elkanah had relations with Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her. It came about in due time, after Hannah had conceived, that she gave birth to a son; and she named him Samuel, saying, "Because I have asked him of the Lord." (1:19-20)
Hannah named her son in remembrance of God's goodness, and she devoted herself to her motherly responsibilities--she was fully committed to her home. The time came for one of the annual trips to Shiloh, and Elkanah came to Hannah to prepare her for the trip.
Then the man Elkanah went up with all his household to offer to the Lord the yearly sacrifice and pay his vow. But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, "I will not go up until the child is weaned; then I will bring him, that he may appear before the Lord and stay there forever."
When God gave the child, Hannah dedicated herself to raising him. She would be devoted to that task for several years, knowing her time with him was short. That's so different from what you see today, isn't it? Women have babies, and a couple of months later they slam the baby in some day care center and take off for the job.
Not Hannah. She was totally committed to stay in the home until that little life was trained. She had important work to do--nursing, loving cherishing, instructing. Hannah understood how vital those early years are, when 90 percent of personality is formed. She prepared him in those formative years for a lifetime of service to God--such a high calling.
Don't mistake her devotion to raising Samuel for the modern tendency to make the child the center of the universe. Hannah discharged her responsibility as a steward--one day she had to give Samuel back. It wasn't about fulfilling her deepest needs through her child. It was about fulfilling her oath to God. It was about being faithful to her calling to be a godly mother.
For those of you who are mothers, think about Hannah this Mother's Day. Be devoted to your husband; be devoted to your God; and be devoted to your home in the fear of the Lord. That's your high calling and your greatest joy.
For those of you whose mothers are still living, recognize your mother this Mother's Day for the things she did well. Look in love beyond any of her shortcomings and honor the one who introduced you to life.