God With You

Image result for Genesis 39:2

 

Somewhere the Church has wrongfully presented the Gospel as the answer to all your problems. If you repent of your sins and accept Jesus Christ as your Savior; God will protect you and you will never face any difficulty. As they say down South, “Sorry but it ain’t so!” Country western singer Charlie Pride was right when he sang, “I never promised you a rose garden.” 

Many Christians {especially new convert} begin taking their spiritual pulse when things go wrong. Why is this happening to me? Is God punishing me for some wrongdoing in my life? Is God displeased with me? Nowhere is this fallacy seen more clearly than in the life of Joesph as recorded in the Book of Genesis. Space does not allow me to unpack this truth completely; so read the complete story for yourself. 

One phrase stood out to me as I read this story: 

  • Because of Joesph’s brother’s jealousy, he was sold into slavery but The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered… Genesis 39:2   Acts 7:9
  • Joesph became a slave in an Egyptian household but The Lord was with Joseph and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Genesis 39:3 
  • He was falsely accused of rape and put in prison but The Lord was with Joseph Genesis 39:21

If you read the biographies of great Christian leaders you will discover that many (if not all) faced great difficulties. The next time something goes “wrong”, remember you are in good company! 2 Timothy 3:12

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If You ask Me…

In my last blog, I spoke of two different views on life: a worldview and a Biblical view. Whichever view you choose it will dictate the decisions you make and how you live your life. In today’s culture, most people view truth as relative.  That is what is true for me is not necessarily true for you. But the truth is NOT relative. Take, for example, Jesus said that He was the only way to the Father [Heaven.] John 14:5-7 Many people do not accept that. They feel there are many ways to heaven and their way is just as viable as yours. 

So often we look to “experts” to determine what is true or false. I once had a person ask me a question concerning a relational issue they were facing. They asked what I thought about the issue and I said,“Well, the Bible says...” They cut me short with, “There you go again always bringing up what the Bible has to say!” I asked for your opinion!”  If you ask me my opinion on what color to paint your living; no problem, I will give you my opinion. But if you ask me a question that Bible addresses; I’ll tell what Scripture says!

The Bible was given to us, not as a law book, but more as a manual for living. When we violate a Biblical Principle (knowingly or unknowingly) there are consequences. So it pays us to study God’s Word. Jesus says both knowing and applying the Word creates the foundation for our lives: “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” Matthew 7:24

Your Life View

We have all heard the question, “Is the glass half full or half empty?” It sounds like a trick question but it isn’t. Either answer is correct, that is according to your perspective.

Your perspective on life is called your ‘life view.’ It is how YOU see and interpret life. (Half full / Half empty) Most people are not even aware they have a life-view but they do.

Basically, there are only views of life: a worldly view and a Christian view. Your view is critically important because it dictates how you live your life! This is why two totally different people can experience the identical situation and respond in a “Don’t be like the people of this world but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him.” Romans 12:2.

I remember reading a perfect illustration of this. Matthew Henry, a renowned writer, and minister he wrote of a man who once stole his wallet. In reflecting on the incident, Henry said, “1.) I am thankful that he never robbed me before. 2), I am thankful that although he took my wallet, he did not take my life. 3) Although he took all I had, it was not much. And 4), I am glad that it was I who was robbed, not I who did the robbing.” Matthew Henry knew how to make lemonade out of a lemon — how to be grateful despite a bad experience.

Choices

Choices. We make them every day. Some choices are intentional, while others are not. If you do not have a work uniform, you choose what you are going to wear to work. Breakfast? Hmm. Cinnamon roll or whole wheat toast? Choices. Read my Bible or watch Fox News? Choices. You are tempted to share a “juicy” bit of gossip. To tell or be quiet? Choices.

I have been thinking about making choices all week. We all know there are some choices that are right or wrong; black or white. But I wonder if we give much thought to the consequences of our choices? Much (if not all) the decisions we make have consequences. Take that choice at breakfast. Nothing inherently wrong with eating ONE cinnamon roll but that choice can have consequences; weight gain. I cannot tell you how many of our friends look back on their ruined lives and regretted their wrong choice.

I think if we were to give more attention to the consequences of our choices; we would make wiser choices. In the spiritual realm, we are tempted to instant gratification but we do not think where it will lead us. Someone once said, “Sin will take you farther than you intended to go, cost you more than you expected to pay, and keep you there longer than you planned.”

I guess it’s human nature to think we are the exception to the rule. It won’t happen to me! I can handle it! I can walk away any time I want. Really? I cannot tell you how many of our friends look back on their ruined lives and regret that wrong choice. They never thought it would end this way.

I am reminded of all the choices that are recorded in God’s Word. Some were wise; others foolish. God wanted them recorded so we would make wise choices. Choices cannot be avoided; so choose wisely.

 

Heart Health

Image result for heart health The last several years the medical field has made tremendous advances in the area of heart health; proper diet, new medical procedures and the importance of exercise. Without exercise, our muscles atrophy. They become weaker and get stiffer at the same time. Without the benefit of regular exercise, our muscles deteriorate until they cannot perform the regular functions they once maintained.

Our heart muscles work the same way, both literally and figuratively. When we’re not praying, giving, serving, and loving on a daily basis, it becomes harder and harder to feel connected to God, to relate to other people, and to feel the joy that comes from serving.

The Bible warns us, “Guard your heart more than anything else because the source of your life flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23 GW Stone hearts don’t harden overnight. They gradually atrophy until we find ourselves with a heart as cold as granite. Regular exercise allows us to love more deeply and serve more humbly. It keeps our hearts tender and compassionate, alive and grateful.

God’s Plan

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

I am sure that most parents wonder what the future holds for their new child. As a Christ-follower, I believe God has a wonderful plan for every person born. That plan was established before we are born. “Before I shaped you in the womb, I [God] knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you:…” Jeremiah 1:5

In 1969 my wife and I stood at the church altar to dedicate our infant son to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. For those who maybe unfamiliar with this ceremony; allow me to explain. A baby dedication is a ceremony in which believing parents make a commitment before the Lord to submit a child to God’s will and to raise that child according to God’s Word and God’s ways. (See Luke 2:22)

We watched as God took our  son and called him to be a pastor. This past Sunday I had the privilege to stand at the church altar and pray for my son as he prepares to go to Guatemala on a Work and Witness missions trip. We never imagined God giving our son the honor of taking the Gospel message to people in another part of the world!

My wife and I would appreciate you praying for our son and the team as they depart tomorrow. Below is a picture of our son [on the right] with a team member from his church.

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Your Legacy

Image result for legacyWe all know that no one gets out of this earthly life alive. (And just as each person is destined to die… Hebrews 9:27) Yet many come to the end of life and have not prepared a will. A will is “a legal document that indicates how the person wants his or her estate (money and property) to be distributed after their death.
Some legacies can be…

1. Thoughtful and kind. The legendary comedian, Jack Benny, stipulated in his will that his wife Mary was to receive a single red rose, symbolic of love & devotion, on the day following the anniversary of his passing away and that the practice would continue until the death of his spouse.

2. Some wills are cruel. Jerry Lewis, another legendary comedian, certainly got the last laugh when it came to his strained relationship with his children. According to his Last Will and Testament, the funnyman emphatically cut out all six children he had with his first wife Patti Palmer — meaning they would inherit nothing.

One of the definitions of a “legacy” “is anything handed down from the past, as from an ancestor or predecessor:” I am very concerned of the legacy I leave for my children, grandchildren, and some day great-grandchildren. I will not leave them great wealth or huge tracts of land but the legacy I wish to leave behind is that they know God intimately and have experienced His presence in their lives.

As a young believer, I was taught some very valuable spiritual “disciplines.” Prayer, Giving, Faithfulness, Fasting, Reading God’s Word just to name a few.  Practising these “disciplines” did not produces salvation but they will help me grow in my walk with Christ. I was taught the most important thing in life was knowing and serving God. 

The more I observe the church, the more I see the erosion of deeply held truths and convictions. I am afraid that Judges 2:7 “The people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work which the Lord had done for Israel.” While the memory of God’s greatness and the work he did for Israel was alive, the people maintained their devotion to God. But verse 10 says that after the death of Joshua and those who had seen God’s mighty acts, “there arose another generation after them, who did not know the Lord or the work which he had done for Israel.” And the result of this ignorance is given in verse 11, “The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord…”

I want my grandchildren (and great grandchildren) to grow up knowing, loving, and serving God.