Listen to Him

Last night’s presidential debate, . . . well, what a fiasco! What an eye-opening view once again into the heart of man (Jeremiah 17:9).

How difficult it is to listen to three men argue, interrupt, accuse, disparage, and fuss! Proverbs 18:13 reminds us, If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.

This past Sunday, I had the joy of listening to Carl Butler, the new pastor of Thompson Baptist Church, Thompson, PA, preach from Hebrews. The major portion of his message was seven reasons why we should listen to the Lord Jesus Christ.

As God’s final Spokesman, Jesus Christ deserves to be heard because . . .

  • He was appointed heir of all things (1:2).
  • He was God’s Active Agent in creation (1:2).
  • He revealed the Divine Glory (1:3).
  • He represented God’s character in the flesh (1:3)
  • He upholds all things right now by the word of His power (1:3).
  • He has totally purged our sins (1:3)
  • He finished the job and is seated at God the Father’s right hand (1:3)

Against the backdrop of last night’s disappointment and debacle, may I say to you today, because of Who Christ is, listen to Him. Men will fail you. Men are not omniscient. Men are fallible. Men are self-serving. Men need Jesus.

Open your Bible. Sit at Jesus’ feet (Luke 10:38-42). Listen to Him (Romans 10:17; James 1:19-21; Revelation 2:7).

My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. (Proverbs 2:1-5)

(Debate pic from thinkadvisor.com)

What an Evening!!

It happened again last night. Three couples gathered on our back porch and had a special evening of fellowship, exhortation, encouragement, edification, laughter, tears, and sharing.

What made it such an awesome evening? Was it the back porch setting? How about the beautiful sunset? Perhaps the delicious cake and coffee? Could it have been the stories that were told? Indeed, all of these things played an important role.

So, what was the ingredient that made the evening so rich? Simply this . . . three couples gathered around the Word of God.

It happens every week. We open our Bibles, read through a passage of Scripture, and then work our way through the verses letting the Holy Spirit teach us in context, observation, interpretation and application. Never do we share “what we think the passage says,” but as the Author intended for us to understand. As the leader, I simply ask questions, explain some words, and guide the discussion, but it is the Word does the work.

Our lives have been so enriched by the Word! We have come to relish our familial relationship as brothers and sisters in Christ through the Word! The honesty and transparency has risen each week because of the Word! Then our time of prayer is one of precious communion prepared by the Word!

Whether you are involved in a small group or it’s just you and your spouse or your family or with your co-worker at lunch or in the church building on Sunday, the best gathering is always around the Word of God!

7 The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
8 The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
11 Moreover by them Your servant is warned,
And in keeping them there is great reward.
(Psalm 19:7-11)

Already looking forward to the next time we gather . . . around the Word!

The Best Gathering Place

Is it a local restaurant?

Is it a concert venue?

Is it a college campus?

Is it a coffee shop?

Is it a sports stadium?

Is it the break room at work?

Without a doubt, the very best gathering place is anywhere the Word of God is opened, read, taught, explained, discussed, applied, and revered!

Last evening, our small group gathered around 1 Timothy 3:1-7. We prayed, read the passage, and then went through a verse-by-verse, almost word-for-word study of God’s precious Book. Never did we ask, “What do you think it means?” We looked at the passage in its context through observation (What does it say?), interpretation (What does it mean?) and application (How do I respond?).

After one hour, we could say that we had met with the Lord; He had spoken to our hearts; the Holy Spirit had guided us into truth! Our hearts were knitted closer to God and to one another. That then made our prayer time to close out the evening a true gathering around the Throne of Grace!

The dynamic of a Sunday morning service is the gathering around the reading and preaching of the Word of God whether it is inside or outside the building. This gathering is of utmost importance (Hebrews 10:25).

The best part of meeting at a coffee shop is the reading of God’s Word. I highly recommend this resource: https://matthiasmedia.com/products/one-to-one-bible-reading

The most edifying conversation and instruction in the home is when husband and wife gather around the Word to read and pray. (The same for the family.)

The entirety of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever. (Psalm 119:160)

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

How can a young man cleanse his way?
By taking heed according to Your word.
10 With my whole heart I have sought You;
Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!
11 Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.
12 Blessed are You, O Lord!
Teach me Your statutes.
13 With my lips I have declared
All the judgments of Your mouth.
14 I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies,
As much as in all riches.
15 I will meditate on Your precepts,
And contemplate Your ways.
16 I will delight myself in Your statutes;
I will not forget Your word.
(Psalm 119:9-16)

The gathering around the Word should cause us to anticipate the great gathering in the sky at the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) and then the gatherings around the Throne in Glory (Revelation 4, 7)!!

The best gathering place is around the Word of God!!

Living In a Word-Filled World

Recently I walked into a local hospital room to find the lady whom I had come to visit soundly sleeping. Her daughter, faithfully at her side, filled me in on her current condition.

After awhile, the daughter said, “Go ahead and wake her. She will not want to miss seeing you.” As soon as her name was called, her eyes opened and she said, “Hi, Pastor. It is so good to see you, and we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

That was just the beginning. As our conversation moved forward, she interspersed scripture from a heart that was settled on its promises and appropriate for praise and trust in our great God. This kind of response was not a surprise because this is what I have heard from her for over twenty years. Her bank of memorized scripture has been her life for over sixty years.

If you were awakened out of sleep, would scripture be on the forefront of your mind? Would a word of truth be ever present on your lips?

Psalm 119 describes the heart of one whose passion, whose world is the Word of God. The following portion, verses 11-18, could be spoken of this dear lady.

11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

12 Blessed art thou, O Lord: teach me thy statutes.

13 With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth.

14 I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches.

15 I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.

16 I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.

17 Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy word.

18 Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.

In a day of unashamed lying, fake news, “who’s telling the truth,” and “what will happen next,” we need to know the Truth, rest in the Truth, speak the Truth, and live the Truth. God’s Word should be the world we live in.

Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. (Ps. 119:97)

Just What You Need . . . Everytime!

1008182216

My dear wife loves to cook! Often I have heard her say, “Cooking is so much fun especially when you have the right tools.”

Just recently, after baking a few loaves of French bread, she was delighted to pull out her stash of newly purchased double-bag size bread bags from King Arthur Flour. She looked at me, held up a bag and reveled in the size, exclaiming, “See! I can also use these for large loaves of sour dough bread. It’s just what I need!”

This reminds me of God’s Word. The absolute, eternal, always-relevant words of scripture are always “just what you need” in every situation of life every time.

Psalm 119:97-105

97 Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.

98 Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me.

99 I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation.

100 I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts.

101 I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word.

102 I do not turn aside from your rules, for you have taught me.

103 How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

104 Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way.

105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Proverbs 2:6-11

6 For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;

7 he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity,

8 guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints.

9 Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path;

10 for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;

11 discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you,

So, since the Word is applicable, relevant, and eternal for all situations of life, why do we not avail ourselves to reading the Word, memorizing the Word, meditating on the Word, listening to the Word, and sharing the Word? Why do we take a leisurely approach to attending gatherings where the Word is preached? Why do we too often have a non-committed attitude about attending church, retreats, conferences, small groups, lunches, etc. where the Word will be taught and upheld with high esteem?

2 Timothy 3:16-17 reminds us, All Scripture is breathed out by God and is PROFITABLE for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

The Word of God is always profitable; it’s always just what you need!

Buffering

 

buffering 2

Cell service in my neck of the woods has been an adventure since we moved here almost five years ago.  I am told that we live between two cell towers and therefore, service is sketchy.  We have tried LG, Samsung, Moto, and iphones from Sprint and Verizon.  Used a booster. Talked hours to tech support.   Nothing has changed. Most of the time, I have one bar showing on my phone.  Not to mentioned a gazillion dropped calls.

Continue reading

“I Don’t Have Time.”

img_20180503_062806226_hdr-effects
“And in the morning, when I rise . . . .”

Really?

Question is, how does any true born-again believer think he or she can live in this present life without spending time at the feet of He Who created life; He Who gives you the ability to walk, talk, breathe, think, act, speak, etc?

Trust is, there is not a moment in our life that we are not desperate for God.  There is not a moment in our life that we are not dependent upon God.

Continue reading

Taking the Scenic Route In Marriage #2

fairhaven cottage

My wife and I love to travel over the mountainous, country roads of East Tennessee, Western North Carolina and Southwest Virginia.  What beauty!  What adventure!  What fun!

Sometimes, we come to the end of road and wonder which direction we should turn.  Many times we have lost our GPS signal.  There is a bit of hopelessness in feeling lost, needing direction.

To fully understand today’s blog post, I would encourage you to read Taking the Scenic Route #1. As we saw, the scenic route is not the normal route.  Its less-travelled and not the overwhelming choice. There we learned, first of all, that God created marriage, not man.

Today, and second of all, God directs marriage, not man.

When you take the scenic route, you better have a good map like in the old days or have faith that your GPS keeps a good signal.  Otherwise, you are likely to get lost.

So many marriages today are directionless, struggling, floundering, trying to run on auto-pilot, and so very sadly are on the verge of collapsing altogether.  Why?  Because too many couples are not getting their directions for marriage from the One Who created marriage.  Read carefully the following words: O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walks to direct his steps (Jeremiah 10:23).

The Bible, God’s infallible Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17), gives us the truths and principles we need for a God-honoring, role-fulfilling, blessed, satisfying marriage (Genesis 2:18-25; Ephesians 5:18-33; 1 Peter 3:1-7).  Therefore, outside of prayer, the greatest thing you can do for your mate is to be a man or woman of the Word!

You see, it takes three to make a good, biblical marriage: God, the man, and the woman.  This is beautifully illustrated by “The Triangle.”

 

Couples-and-Jesus-triangle

The closer each spouse moves to God, the closer they move toward each other.  But, the further each moves from God, the further they move from each other.

Direction in marriage is so needed every day for each spouse, as well as each other’s own personal, relational growth in Christ (Ephesians 4:12-16; 2 Peter 3:18).

How does this happen?

  1. Read & be clean by the Word (Ps. 119:9; John 15:2-6; 1 John 1:9)
  2. Study the Word (Psalm 119:33-40)
  3. Personalize the Word (Memorize/Meditate — Make it your own (Psalm 119:73-80)
  4. Share the Word (Ephesians 4:15)

There are so many ways to take in the Word of God through Bible apps (YouVersion), Scripture memory apps (ScriptureTyper), and podcasts (Love Worth Finding, Adrian Rodgers).  Be sure to journal what God is saying to you each day.  Then, gather up your journal and your Bible and have a special time with your spouse sharing what the God of your salvation has said to you (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

Broken, directionless marriages always involve at least one partner moving away from God, abandoning prayer and the searching of God’s Word.

Consider the following:

  1. Before you take the scenic route, you want to find out where you are going. I like to look at the map and I have an idea of where the road goes. The Word of God gives you a picture in your mind the roads and lay of the land in marriage. The Word of God always keeps you on the right road
  2. Sometimes on the scenic route, you let your intuition (hunch) take over. As you learn the Word and grow in the Word, you will come to rely more and more on the Word in your marriage. In essence, your spiritual instinct takes over.
  3. On the scenic route, if you get lost, you stop and ask for directions. Men usually hate to ask for directions, but in reality, men, you should be the one who is always stopping to pray (ask for directions) and point your wife toward God.

You see, just as the scenic route is not the normal route, a marriage directed by God who created matrimony is not the norm against the backdrop of this world.

Surrender to God today.  Search His Word.  Trust and live out His Word.  Enjoy the journey.

Your most important turn in marriage is the next one! —- Will it be toward God?

On the Same Page Together

02-08-17-on-the-same-page-1

Yesterday I received my daily email from All-Pro Dad, and the post for Wednesday was entitled, 4 Areas You and Your Wife Need to Be on the Same Page

The four areas are:

  1. Touching throughout the day.
  2. Spending money wisely.
  3. Making big decisions together.
  4. Having an Open-Heart policy.

BONUS: Closing the day in prayer

These four things are spot-on, but what caught my attention was the title of the article and the bonus.  They describe the real need of every marriage.

The page that every marriage should work from each day is a page from God’s Word.

The bonus in every marriage, every day is prayer!

You see, God, the Creator of marriage between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:18-25), is also the Author of God’s Word.  Therefore, for a husband and wife to be blessed and have an honorable marriage, they will work off the same page . . . the page(s) of God’s Word.

Since God is righteous (Psalm 145:17), then all His ways, counsel, direction, and wisdom is right.  You want to know what’s right for your marriage, then both of you work off the same page, God’s Word!

Husband and wives should read the Word together, share with each other what God teaches you each day-by-day from the Word, faithfully attend a Bible teaching and preaching church, be exposed to biblical preaching via podcasts or radio, attend camps and conferences where you can learn the Word together, and live your lives in accordance to God’s right path (Joshua 1:8-9; Psalm 1:1-6; 19:7-14).

Proverbs 14:11 reminds us, There is a way which seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.  Since marriage is the union of two selfish individuals whose way seems always best to themselves, it is most wise to walk in the counsel of God’s righteous Word.

The power and place of God’s Word is on display in Psalm 119.  Here’s an action plan. How about each day, you and your spouse read one eight-verse section from Psalm 119.  Take turns reading each verse out loud and stopping after each verse to listen to God and share with each other how that verse applies to your life and marriage.  Then jot down in a journal your thoughts, biblical plans, and the righteous path God has revealed to you as you read, discuss and meditate on the Word.

Finally, enjoy the BONUS—pray together.  Don’t just wait until the end of the day.  Find yourselves praying for and with each other throughout the day and night.  The absolute best place to go with your spouse is to the Throne of Grace (Hebrews 4:14-16).

Now, that’s really working off the same page!!

To the People in the Pew: The Snowy Word

Quiet. Peaceful. Snow falling. The country view out my front window. Another fresh blanket covering the ground.  As I watched the beauty of God’s creation, the Lord brought Isaiah 55:10-11 to my mind:

For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,

And do not return there,

But water the earth,

And make it bring forth and bud,

That it may give seed to the sower

And bread to the eater,

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;

It shall not return to Me void,

But it shall accomplish what I please,

And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

There are several analogies of the snow and the Word of God:

  1. Snow quiets the earth, and the Word quiets our soul, our heart, our mind, our life.
  2. Snow falls quietly, and God speaks the Word quietly to our heart.
  3. Snow blankets the earth, and the Word blankets our heart when we are troubled, discouraged, or in need of wisdom.
  4. Snow makes the ugly beautiful, and the Word regenerates making beautiful what sin makes ugly.
  5. Snow slows us down, and the Word does the same or stops us in our tracks.
  6. Snow alters our life, and the Word will alter our life always for the better.
  7. Snow comes from the heavens, and the Word is settled and comes from above.
  8. Snow is avoided; sadly, the Word is avoided by so many.
  9. Snow has a future effect upon the earth preparing the ground for spring; the Word has a present and future effect preparing us for service, trials, witnessing, the Bema, and making us more Christ-like..
  10. Snow is unique as is demonstrated by each flake, and the Word is forever unique as there is no other word like God’s Word.

I’m sure there are many other analogies, but simply put, the next time the snow falls, if you are a believer, begin to think on the tremendous, awesome Word of God and let it drive you to its pages!!  Let it accomplish and prosper in your life what God so ordains!