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Archive for December, 2010

It is so true and good word for this old preach today!

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2 Peter 1 NLT

3 By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. 4 And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

5 In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

8 The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.

10 So, dear brothers and sisters,[c] work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. 11 Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 1:  lit me up this morning.  I am almost 55 and I am still hearing God tell me to continue to grow up.  Verse 5 rang out to me “…make every effort…”  There is no accommodation for lazy Christian here.  There are no excuses.  It is like saying to any college or pro quarterback, “I want you to go out there and give me 73%.  I realize that you can’t give it all the time so I will settle for 73%”  Only coaches who are hooked on crack say that kind of thing.  The Apostle Peter is my coach this morning and he is telling me to never get lazy…never give into a complacent walk with the Lord and just hit it 73% of the time.  Make every effort…and on top of that supplement that faith with moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, patient endurance, godliness, brotherly affection, and finally love.  What happens after that?  GROWTH.  PRODUCTION, USEFULNESS.

I get one shot at today.  I am forgiven.  I am one of His Children.  I must work hard to prove that I really am what I say I am.  Just because I am a preacher, pastor, counselor etc-ad-nauseam…it is no excuse whatsoever that I earn the right to stop in my disciplines and drive to serve God.  The Holy Spirit will never stop His work IN me so He can do His work THROUGH me.

God, help me to be this way today!

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1 As for you, Titus, promote the kind of living that reflects wholesome teaching. 2 Teach the older men to exercise self-control, to be worthy of respect, and to live wisely. They must have sound faith and be filled with love and patience.

Isn’t it interesting that God leaves very little for speculation.  Once we become a believer, God lives in us enabling us to keep this kind of “to do list”.    Obvious it follows that good living is one that listens to good Bible teaching combed out in our lives under the direction of the Holy Spirit.  I would understand that would include a steady diet of Scripture, being very attentive to the preached and taught Word as from the Lord, and being careful what I feed my mind that drives my heart and action.

I used to be able to avoid the “older men” deal. However, I is one now!  Older men:  Let’s see what God is desiring to do here in my life.  I am to be a man who exercises “self-control”.  I am to be a person who is worthy of respect…I live out what I declare.  I am to live wisely, have a sound faith and to be filled with love and patience. That list ought to keep me busy today.  I am closer to some of that than I ever have been before.  I am reminded that Mexico City is closer to Florence than Antarctica…so close only counts in horseshoes.  Today I thank God that this work of sanctification is a “daily” contract.  He is at work in my life today.

I can listen to wholesome teaching.  I can live a life that is balanced between believing and doing what I believe.  Self-control is not off the radar and there are no excuses only opportunities to bring Glory to God by being obedient, worthy of respect.  Living wisely can be appropriated because the giver of wisdom lives in me.  A Settled Faith…now there is something that I can rest on and not waver about. God is love and in total control of all things.  I can trust Him to produce love and patience in my circumstances today.  I  trust HIM!

 

 

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15 This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. 16 But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life. 17 All honor and glory to God forever and ever! He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen.

Let’s see if I get it right.  He is God.  I am not.  And I will spend the rest of my day today remembering that I am not the center of the universe.  HE IS.  Paul just finished reminding me again this morning that today is about the Glory of God.  I stop and worship God today because of His work in my life.  He decided when and where and to whom I would be born.  He allowed me to grow up where I did and under the influences He chose.  I am amazed how he has some how in His rich grace allowed me to share in His work in Florence to my wife, family, and a church full of people who are just like me…sinners whom He saved!  It is a prime example of His great patience with an old sinner like me.

I just remembered that Glory can come from a husband and wife (Billy and Mary Jacque)who dances every day even though MS has her bound to a wheelchair.  I have seen more glory come from their faithfulness to God in the midst of the challenges as they stay true to the assignment that God somehow has allowed in her life.  I watch my friends Micky and Barbara stay faithful to her task as she rides in her wheelchair to church each day dealing with the assigned circumstances of her life.  Their smile and love for God and family blows me away as I watch them “dance” together.  I get a kiss each Sunday as “Goggy” Player sits in that wheelchair allowing her smile to make her malady disappear.  I watch Anthony Pruitt continue to “walk” in his wheelchair as he deals with CP everyday for years now.  And to think that I am able to walk and dance should I choose to do so…and without assistance…and I am thankful to God that I can do my part as these four do their part.

17 All honor and glory to God forever and ever! He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen.

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8 For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light!

Is it about Christ?  OR JUST MAYBE, it’s about ME!  There is no single time in the year that we see more about Christ.  We see a manger scene…hear sermons about the Christ child…see our children in the Christmas play at church or maybe at school.  Yet he is pushed somewhere between Dancer and Prancer and his little scene is under the shadow of Santa and the sleigh.  “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…” Who get’s to define those terms?  The marketing manager for Belks, JC Pennys, and Khols?  The CEO’s of Best Buy and WalMart?  Christ, the Light, under the shadow of this world’s greed?  Black Friday reminds me of my own black heart.  I wonder what 75% of the world thinks about us as we scavenge our way through our shopping frenzies looking for things we really don’t need so we can have what we will put on the shelf next to the stuff we wanted last year that has been on the shelf ten months.  Greed!  That’s the monster.  I find it in my own heart.

I guess it was the plan of God.  I have been preaching on Colossians on Sunday Morning (Chapter 3), out of Ephesians at the Tuesday Bible Study (Chapter four now focusing on walking worthy of the calling that is ours in Christ) and out of 2 Corinthians on Sunday evenings (chapter 10).  It is obvious that Paul doesn’t play around at all.  He plainly declares that followers of Christ should live a transformed life.  They should be different.  He leaves no room for misunderstanding for he is so specific.  The list is similar to the one I will be preaching on.  It addresses a specific sin, the stinkin’ thinkin’ that is in the mind that led to the action, yet gives us a grip on the root problem behind it all.  In the list here is Sexual Immorality, driven by a lustful thoughts, but all of that finds foundation in our worship of SELF…greed…wanting what someone else has…Covetousness is the OLD Victorian phrase.  And again I find myself looking into the mirror of God’s Word and dealing with WHO I worship today.  It is the Lord’s day.

3 Let there be no sexual immorality (he could have just as easy put stealing, boasting, pride, selfish ambition, hurting people, etc), impurity (the ugly thoughts that accompany the action or sin), or greed (worshiping self) among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. 4 Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be (and here is the cure) thankfulness to God. 5 You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.

6 Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him. 7 Don’t participate in the things these people do. 8 For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! 9 For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.

I had to add these to my list for they were a great reminder to be holy.  We are to Walk Worthy as Ephesians 4:1 tells us.  Here he is clear when he instructs me to live as people of light.  I am different.

Christmas teaches me to Love the Lord with all of my being and it should help me learn that I am to love others as I love myself.  What a challenge!  The issue for me is whether I am going to Worship God or Worship myself.  The cure for our greed is to be thankful to God.  I will start before I get to church today!

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I wish I could get the “everyday” deal down pat.  There are so many ways I get to interact with the Word of God.  I stress about not being at the gym and allowing the body to become used to so little activity.  Working out was done early due to some deep friendships that have changed.  That’s not a bad thing.  However, I still crave the friendship of those two guys.  The challenge of being  consistent, everyday – disciplined can be seen there.

My study is in my home.  I do my best to devote two days to study for the four Biblical presentations I choose to do each week.  One of the challenges of a preacher that is ADHDDDDDD is to find uninterrupted time to devote to that process.  Early morning hours (sometimes as early as 4:30 a.m. especially with a coffee pot full of Starbucks Coffee) provide the absolute best opportunity for me to be face to face before the Father.  Yesterday, I had the chance to get started early, see my wife off to work, then back at it and I picked my head up out of the study time at noon.  I can get a lot done with that kind of focus.  But it has to be quiet. My practice used to be that I would get up early and head to the gym to work out.  It was a good time for that as well.  Now the pressure of choosing where to place the emphasis or at least how to balance a day with a proper focus on my own priorities.

It is Friday and I have some freedom to the day’s activities.

Text for the day!  Romans 13:5

5 So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience.

That “keeping a clear conscience” caused me to pause and think.  Let’s see if confession is good for the soul.  I’ll tell you one of my “secret sins”.  Ready?  I drive faster than I should.  I can hear some folk laugh out loud and say, “You think?  But it became painfully clear to me the other day that not keeping the speed limit is saying that I am big enough to judge the laws of this land.  Following that thought would be that if I am big enough to judge the law of the land regarding speeding then I am demonstrating that it is alright to judge God’s laws and not follow them should I so choose to do so.  It is the “attitude” or the “spirit” of the law with which I am struggling.

I do not have the privilege of judging God and His guidance in my life.  His ways are always perfect and righteous.  His superintending my life precludes that I will listen to Him when He shares his will for my life.  A desire in my heart to say “Yes” to God even before he speaks is critical to my daily growth as a child of God.  Challenging the ways of God is idiotic.  Either He is God or He isn’t.  I choose to believe He is…and in doing so I choose to challenge myself to do what He says without judging.

40 miles per hour on Second Loop Road seems to be insane.  But higher and better people than I have studied and deliberated as the to the law.  I am not given the right to judge it.  I follow it or pay the price.  I am challenging myself to pay attention to the instructions of the Word of God.  I want to have a clear conscience toward the Father.

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