Monday, August 30, 2010

His Power Is There For You To Plug Into And Shine!

"In Your hand is power and might; in Your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all." ~1 Chronicles 29:12, nkjv

 

It's in God's hand, not in yours or mine, but you and I were born to shine!  

 

Did you know that you were created for a very unique a wonderful purpose? Sure you knew that! I'm sure that many people have told you this before.  

 

Well, it's true!  

 

Here's the thing. It will only be wonderful though.. if you plug into the right power Source.

 

No one really wants you to try to fulfill your God ordained purpose here on your own. And this purpose I'm talking about ..of course.. will involve turning from your sins, turning to Jesus Christ in humble faith today (and regularly) and simply trusting Him to do what He already said that He would do. We can stand upon His promises.

 

Tes, it's about relying upon the power of the Word of God rather than going it all alone.

 

I don't trust my fleshly nature. I don't trust this world system to help me. I don't trust religion to give me any power at all.. after it keeps telling me to "Be good and do good!" Christ alone gives the power I need to live good and that's why I feel so motivated to live clean in Him. His blood does it's work when I just tell Him where I've blown it. It changes me and gives victory!  

 

I'm also talking about power in prayer, power to glorify the Lord, power to produce fruit that lasts. Perhaps you've wondered about all this and where to start. Some people are power-hungry or badge-heavy in the wrong kinda way, but you don't have to be.

 

Jesus said in "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples" (Jn. 15:5-8, nkjv).

 

Now a really good rendering of that word "nothing" there in the original Greek language means.. nothing. Yup!

 

So what am I saying here? Let's not over complicate things. I'm saying plug into your real power Source and always recognize that you are not it. He'll be glad to shine through you, so others will want Him too. Far too many people are trying to gain power from so many inferior sources these days. Don't be like them. Let's get back to the Word and then to a sound church instead.

 

Come on, how tough is admitting it (confessing what's wrong), quitting it (for good, not for a day) and then simply abiding in Christ who will keep giving you power to witness of His grace and of His glory? Exciting stuff! He even gives you the power to quit all the things that would destroy you, that keep you from becoming more you. Why would anyone want to hang on to that junk?

 

Listen, God is the Person Who actually wants you to have this power to witness of the Gospel of grace ......more than you yourself want to have this power! You get to know Him by grace through faith (not by striving, coniving, or even by working to earn it..) and that's how you also get filled with His power. Simply ask Him for this.

 

"But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." ~Acts 1:8

 

The uber-skeptic doubts, argues, and scoffs.. denying the truths that are clear and we hold so dear. But God's Word is powerful and will always remain. That's where we run to see the stain made plain. And that's Who we trust to forgive us and proclaim through us what all people need to hear!

 

If your purpose on earth is discovered and then lived out by His power, then your life will be very fulfilling! If it is ignored, unrecognized or rejected, your life will fall short of what it was always designed to become. Pray, pray, pray. Obey, obey, obey.. Christ. You were meant to become what He has planned for you to become, nothing else. Any of us could miss it, or miss what's really good by trying on our own to make it all happen. Faithful is He that calls you..that Jesus.. and He also will do it!

 

A light bulb ain't much really when merely handed to a friend. Who wants a bulb to carry around? It was meant to be plugged into a power source to shine bright! If you screw the bulb into a lamp stand in your house and the wire indeed goes through where it should, then the blub will fulfill its original purpose for being created. It will give out light in the darkness to help other people around there go in the right way. They'll need to find their way around in the House without hurting themselves or others.

 

Why remain like a bulb on its own, all detached, non-luminescent, and pointless? Jesus Christ alone can help you fit into your Creator's original plan and become meaningful rather than meaningless ..by His own mighty power! Yes, He wants to start a relationship with you today. Just respond to Him as any friend would when offered an expensive Gift.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Want to be Full of Grace and Truth?

I sure want to be…yes, filled and controlled by Christ's Spirit!

 

"We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only Son who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." ~John 1:14, niv

 

"For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." ~John 1:17

 

As a parent of three boys I did my best to balance grace and truth in the home, wanting to excel with both. I wanted to be remembered by love and discipline there.. yes by courtesy and control if you will. I still trust the Lord to help me in this area.

 

Now I certainly wasn't a perfect parent, but Liney and I did spend a lot of time talking and listening to each other and our boys. We taught them the Scriptures and got their input regularly.

 

And sure we would wrestle and goof off with em at times, but my wife and I also wanted to see some level of order and respect being established there as well.

 

I've seen firsthand how some dads would spend almost zero time with their kids and yet really lay down the law as far as them keeping the house rules. Balance is a good thing. Giving can be a good thing too.

 

I've also seen how other moms and dads sought to spend time with their child a whole lot and would literally over-give to them in an uber-gracious way. Maybe they were compensating. Dunno.

 

They sincerely tried to only be their child's buddy or to win the child's heart by bribes. They became "one of the gang" or even the slave to drive them wherever they wanted whenever they wanted.. except to church because king-child never felt like going. You know, fear of tantrums.

 

And the spoiled child would soon show disrespect and would even despise this buddy-parent even though they learned well how to throw fits and pretty much got whatever they demanded.

 

Ever seen any children or parents like this? God commands, "Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it" (Prov. 22:6). This is so important today. And you can't do this well at all if you don't example this. They do what you do more than what you say to do.

 

 

Your best shot is to do it God's way according to the Bible, parent, because to live out of balance either way—with too much severe strictness or too much permissiveness with idol-baby—could mess em up. the imbalance could make it very easy for them to grow up and turn on you rather than feel respect for you. 

 

Shifting gears believer, are you the type of public witness that lacks both grace along with an understanding of the truth because you are hardly ever in the Word or in prayer for others? Please change.

 

Some Christians pray a lot but totally ignore the Scriptures and they blow up, others ignore prayer time alone and but do read the Bible ..minus any application and they dry up. But some Christians read the Bible and pray ..and they grow up!

 

Are you the type of witness that can never be frank with someone for their own good, in fear that they might not like you anymore? There is so much fear out there of rejection, of being under-equipped, of messing up doctrinally.. but no worries because perfect love casts out fear. God is love and Christ's grace is SO there to help you!

 

Too many of us seek to live right and we work so hard to build a bridge of trust—earning the right to be heard so to speak—but once that bridge is built we never seem to open our mouths and get the Gospel across that bridge for fear of rejection. "Sure Kurt, we worked hard and don't want to lose the ground we gained." Christ was rejected so that you would not fear being rejected. He still gives boldness when we ask.  

 

Or are you the type of witness that is so blunt regardless of the timing or location that saints and sinners alike have started to view you as rude and unwise? You know like.. "Well, the truth doesn't return void man, so if I embarrassed him with my loud preaching in front of all his co-workers on the job site about being late to church yesterday, then so be it. That's an issue between him and God, so he'll just need to repent and grow up. We've got to be punctual men of truth at all times, brother in and out of season."

 

AMEN MAN! But did Jesus give every sinner that He met all the truth He knew in one sitting or as much as He knew was right for them at that time? He seemed direct but very gentle with the lady at the well didn't He? She knew she was a sinner and tried to evade the subject of all her past husbands, and yet Christ remained tactful and on-task.

 

"The woman said to Him, 'Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.'" ~John 4:19-20, nkjv

"Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him, that glory may dwell in our land. Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed." ~Psalm 85:9-10

 

Confronted by Love.

Convicted by the Spirit,

Changed on the spot by Jesus!

 

She simply went to fetch some water at an unusual time of the day, but her sin-sick life was totally transformed and cleansed from the inside out ..as a result of the grace and truth that Christ expressed. He took the time for her, but also got to the point.

 

And she was so grateful that this Lover number seven showed up at just the right time and place.    

 

Though many modern day preachers and Christian witnesses won't touch on such pointed subjects anymore, you and I shouldn't be afraid to discuss topics of repentance, the Ten Commandments, infidelity, inner conviction, contrition, holy living, Hell, the brevity of life, real guilt, the Rapture of the Church, the Second Coming, future wrath or certain judgment to come.. but our hearers must know that we authentically care about them. Let the timing and approach be right. Why bring those things up if you don't love them dearly?

 

They certainly don't need another Pharisee-type talking down to them, browbeating em, pushin' em or condemning them.

 

I want to encourage you. I'm far from perfect.

 

Listen, after being as tactful and gracious as I can be in any given personal evangelism situation, I personally would rather have you (or anyone) angry with me now for telling you the truth than angry with me later as you go split the Lake of Fire wide open. Sure, I want you with the Lord and me foreverandeverandever not in that ugly loveless pit!

It's true!

 

The love of Christ must compel us. If I really love someone who is totally distracted and headed for a cliff in a car, then I will jump up and down, wave my arms in the air, make a fool of myself if I have to, and also lift my voice just to get their attention..to warn them of what's ahead. You know you too would do that if you really cared for someone. I just heard of a doctor in Malibu who drove off a cliff last week with his dog, while he was texting a friend. People are hungry for grace and truth.

 

"Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue." ~2 Peter 1:2-3

 

"..since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth; as you also learned from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, who also declared to us your love in the Spirit." ~Colossians 1:6-8

 

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." ~John 1:14

 

Hooray that we know and serve a God that is full of grace and truth. What a JOY!

 

Christ didn't just talk love, or disingenuously play the love-card if you will. He took action and went to the cross to show you how much He loves you! He prays for you today too because of it.

 

Today countless individuals are seeking for a god within themselves. They falsely believe that they were a frog or a roach in their former life on earth. TV personalities often go with an impersonal force or this jive as well. Others want to religiously earn points or good Karma. Some people want to meditate using crystals—they want to forget where they've blown it before and say, "Hey, it's all good." Is it? Many like cults that teach some Scriptures ..except for verses that touch on sin.

 

Hey if people are truly reincarnated, then where are all these new people coming from?

 

No gracious Creator out there.. really? Then why is the earth's population growing?

 

But people worship the trees, the forests, the oceans and the environment—anything out there, and are still considered cool by those in the world ..just as long as they don't worship the Bible God—Jesus Christ.

 

John tells us the truth that the glory of God ain't tied up in things, just as it ain't any longer confined on a mountain or in a Tabernacle or as a cloud or as fire or as a reflection on a leader's face. Nope, "the Word became flesh and lived for a while among us... full of grace and truth."

 

John tells us, "I have seen Him!"

 

How excellent! John actually saw Jesus up close and personal as He lived sinless the whole way through.. as he ministered to the masses of needy people with grace and truth, as He exampled a better way, as He got arrested, as He got nailed for no fault of His own, as He got jeered and mocked, as He died in pain, as He got thrown in a dirty hole, as He came out of that tomb three days later totally victorious, just as He said He would, and saw Him, Christ, as He ascended up on high!

 

God want you to see Jesus as well.. and hear His voice. John saw Him in the past, but you can see Him in the future if you make your reservations in advance. He seriously wants that for your loved as well.

 

Man, I'd love to hear Him say, "Well done, good and faithful servant.." How 'bout you? Respond right now! And never forget that the cross is where grace and truth met together... for you and for me.   

Thursday, August 26, 2010

If you like rescuing pets like Liney does, then I think you'd like helping people too!

Off the subject.. 

Don’t know if you’ve ever met my beautiful wife, Liney, yet.

She is the real deal—the most selfless, non-vain, giving and serving Christian that I have ever met and she loves to send me (and our relatives) lots of photos of animals that she claims are cute (not even a few are).. especially pictures of wild-eyed cats and everyone knows where those things come from. Hint: Dogs are from God in heaven and cats are from __LL.

Ever taken a look at a cat’s facial expression? I rest my case.

Yeah, everyone around our entire neighborhood for a couple miles in every direction.. knows that Liney has a soft spot in her heart for animals and these pets often seem to show up with needy owners too. I always say, wanna meet friends, buy a dog! Liney has tons of friends. I've asked Liney before how she feels the need or responsibility inside to help so many and she says they just need to be in their place? Don't get me wrong we actually only live with one pet, thank God!!! But neighbors constantly bring em to her for special attention or doctoring. They don't brring me to me ..ever.. but every now and then I end up doing a wedding or a funeral for some of them. Liney is a better Christian than I by far and she is constantly stopping to pull-in all different kinds of animals from the middle of the street ..or to take them to the Vet ...and for that I am really proud of her.  but please don't tell her. 

Sometimes she's out there hanging up lost or found pet signs on poles too. CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT? I used to wonder who did that kind of thing.  

For a long time Liney was reading a book from Europe called something like, “All Creatures Great and Small” (there's a series of four by James Harriot) about a rural veterinarian in Yorkshire and all of his farm adventures etc. She daily told me all the details of what happened in those books so now I feel like I know the the chap and all his quirky pet and human clients. Liney never ever watches the animal programs or animal movies where one animal suddenly catches and devours another animal (it always happens too and I've tried to flip ahead to another channel ..but am not fast enough), but the other day said that she can hardly wait 'til the rapture when she gets to heaven so she can watch animal shows without all the blood and guts. Sometimes the strays from our area or even from farther away ..end up in our backyard and then I get all kinds of mixed emotions going on. She's workin' the phones. She purposes that it will never happen again - just this one time, Kurt. Right Liney!  

Anyways, her boss Carol at the Cooper Clinic gave Liney a book recently that was written by bestselling novelist, Dean Koontz. The book is called, “A Big Little Life.” I haven’t read it yet and she didn't agree with 100% of it but said that it’s a decent read and about this Newport Beach based author and his wife’s golden retriever, Trixie. Perhaps you’ve read it. I might delve into the pages one day. From listening to her explain it, it kind of reminds me of this verse…

“A righteous man regards the life of his animal, but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.” ~Proverbs 12:10

Sounds like a nice author. Yes, Liney has been talking for days to me about what this author wrote.. especially what this guy wrote at the very end of his book:

“The life of a seamstress is no smaller than the life of a queen, the life of a child with down syndrome no less filled with promise than the life of a philosopher, because the only significant measure of your life is the positive effect it has on others, either by conscious acts of will or by unconscious example. Every smallest act of kindness—even just words of hope when they are needed, the remembrance of a birthday, the compliment that engenders a smile that has the potential to change the recipient’s life. If by the example of her joy and innocence, a dog can greatly change two lives for the better, then no life is little and every life is big. The mystery of life is the source of wonder, and the wonder of life is what makes it so worth living.” 

This man has a superb and premium knack for words huh. Man, Liney and I really want our lives to have a positive effect upon the Lord first (you know in really blessing Him for who He is..) as we earnestly worship Him from our hearts and then also upon others that we come in contact with. You also want your life to count for world changing huh! Please continue to pray for open doors for us to go through and also let us know how we can lift you up. 

“Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” ~ Philippians 2:4

“But others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.” ~ Jude 1:23

Anyways, Liney (who really loves reading books by Christians who care for others and even for animals) said it was a simple but very good book, not a personal evangelism or ministry book per see but still a wonderful book. The author really shines his light and says that he is a Christian ..which is wonderful. He certainly has more than a way with words and the book graphically told a great story about his loving thoughtful dog who seemed to be a good judge of people’s character. Watching my wife constantly help pets and people, saints and sinners, kinda makes me want to get involved with the need too and use what few little gifts I have to bless others too. (I don't know about cats yet. That could take a lot of time [cacck caaack, hairball], but God ain't done with me). And it all makes me kinda sorta want to be more God-and-others-orientated as she is.. as Jesus Himself was and always will be. He's there for you even better than my wife is there for the neighborhood pets! 


Monday, August 23, 2010

Got Hope?

Got questions and zero hope?

Is there nothing steady or sure in our world anymore? Most of my friends here in Dallas refuse to watch the news anymore. That hope-y n change-y thing sure just ain't workin' for em at this point. 

Man, what’s up with the economy and all the incessant blaming going on? There are reasons for it, but I heard one expert say we are on the verge of going into a full on depression if real changes are made soon. 

What's up with the current real estate market, the food costs, the retirement options ..or lack thereof.. with the stock market weirding out often, and with the other huge financial messes in our country? Doesn’t it seem like we can’t count on anything anymore? Ok, with all these failures facing us each day, what or who can we trust in? Where is there even room for hope in our day..or in our kid's lives as they start to pay off the huge debt we left em?

Are your circumstance or relationships somewhat polarized or half-crumbling right now?

Perhaps they are totally crumbling. Need some beauty for ashes 'bout now? 

Are you stuck, blocked, hindered, under some kind of attack, or just needing a new outlet for love and practical ministry? Whatcha facing?

Has religion, your lover, your career, your 401K, your parents, or some close friendship really let you down ..hard? You are not alone in this, so please don't wilt, throw in the towel or give up! Others are watching you.. how you'll respond and they also have decisions to make. 

This generation is so thirsty for hope!!! Something ought to be said and done.

Both saints and sinners alike want this badly.. this thing called hope!

You know, I think that it’s hard for anyone to live long or short without air, without water, without food or without hope. And some people would prefer to go without the first three than the later for even a minute.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is a God of hope. Are you in Him yet (I'll explain in a bit)? If not.. why not? Got your reasons? Been in a strange creepy-icky church before? Met a weird pushy, non-gracious, or controlling Christian before? I might understand a bit, but there are some healthy ones to come into fellowship with out there still.. please believe me!

Listen, more importantly that that stuff ..if you get right with Christ (if you’re not yet born again I mean..) and spend some time with the Lord today listening to His holy Word ..what He’s all about will indeed rub off on you, believer!

Try going despair-less, gloom-less, sin-less, and gripe-less with Him today!

In faith get out of yourself and reach out to help the more hopeless, the hurting, and the helpless. What a blessing and you’ll never lack for an audience. We are surrounded by those in worse shape.
      
I think we can all relate to these people if we try.

Can you think of instances in your life when hope was all gone? What did you do, who did you turn to, what did you listen to?

Can you think of instances in your life when hope was resurrected and fully alive in you even though everything else on the outside seemed whacked-to-the-max? 

Hey, it can happen for any of us.. if we gain some biblical faith.

The Bible and the God of the Bible is where we should turn to daily. Sure, the Bible is filled with countless paradoxes and challenging statements. Did you know that all true science agrees with the Bible? They really aren't at odds with each other as many suspect. 

"Paradoxes.. huh, Kurt?" Well, to live we must die, to receive we must obey and give, to be strong we must yield and be weak. Those are a few of em for ya.

The Bible also teaches us that we can for sure experience real hope during very trying and difficult times. It’s when we least expect hope that it will most likely pop up before us. I find when I spend some time in prayer seeking the Lord, hope and excitement just grows in me. Circumstances can change so quickly.  

Even if we’ve never personally experienced hope in the face of failure, in the face of sickness, or disease, or rejection.. we each can indeed find many biblical accounts of people who discovered hope when they really needed it most. The Word of God is your hope! You don't need astrology or any voodoo or a relationship with buried people!  

I personally think of Elijah by the stream not too long after his great victory on Mount Carmel. I think of his friends.. that poor widow and her son in who needed that pinch of meal just to survive. I also think of how God encouraged and comforted Paul when he got down.

 “For indeed, when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears. Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus..” (2 Cor. 7:5-6).

“For thou art the God of my strength: why dost thou cast me off? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, [who is] the health of my countenance, and my God” (Ps. 43:2 and 5).

 “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father..” (1 Thess. 1:3).

When the Psalmist David said, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil” (Ps. 23:4), he was going through a place where evil at least seemed like an ever-present reality (I’m sure evil surrounded him often and was in this place too). Yet David encouraged himself in the God when nobody else would. He refused to give way to fear or a life of despair. He praised the Lord and he knew where to turn for hope. 

He wasn’t expressing his hope that God would abolish evil in that Psalm.. for the purpose of him passing through safely in great comfort or luxury. He was saying that the very presence of His Shepherd-God gave him the confidence to pass through difficult places without fear of being deserted by Him. The Lord never forsook him. And later in another psalm, David expressed that the Lord Himself was his hope (71:5). Do you encourage yourself in Christ? What are you passing through?

“You are my hope, O Lord God; You are my trust from my youth” (Psalm 71:5).

“Our strength and hope is in the Lord—we rest secure in His sure Word; and though we’re tempted to despair we know we’re kept within His care.” ~David De Haan

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to [give] an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear, Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ” (1 Pet. 3:15-16).

Please discover Hope in the real Jesus Christ (the Bible Christ, for the first time or for the 100th time today). He is the sure and steady Anchor for your soul, for your family and for your whole life!

Ever sail big boats or had any experience with anchors before? Ever been down to the largest harbors or been aboard an aircraft carrier or ship? I used to live near these boats and the Queen Mary. 

Man, one anchor for such a carrier will weigh more than sixty-thousand pounds ..and that’s more than a lot! That’s not even including the nearly 400 pounds for each iron link in the chain. When you consider the number one purpose of any anchor, you wouldn’t expect anything less for such a big boat like this huh. 

Stability is the ability to stay when other stuff around us isn't. The Lord can give you stability in any storm.  

And it takes an even stronger anchor than what you find on a large carrier to keep the human soul in place through the wild hurricanes of life! Today’s unique challenges seem bigger than ever before and with people growing more desperate for hope, you and I can be there for them (ready for them.. post-finding-hope for ourselves), pointing them in the right direction—to Jesus who really cares. What greater life-purpose will you find anywhere?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

What questions do you like to ask as you read the Bible?

Do you regularly check out and  believe the Bible or find it irrelevant for our world today? Man I still, after thirty three years, find it very interesting and relevant. In fact I can’t seem to get to the bottom of this Book. And Oh, what peace I enjoy when reading or listening to it via MP3s!

People have questions today. The Bible has answers!  People have problems today. The Word of God is our Solution. It doesn't even mater what the question or need is, the Word of God is the Answer. He addresses it. Jesus Christ, the living Word, can meet all your needs! 

Do we believers ever outgrow the need to memorize or internalize God’s Word? No way! Putting God’s Word in your heart is kinda like planting seeds that will eventually bear the fruit of a righteous life. This is so important!  

If you are faithful in reading God’s Word, you can be sure that you’re growing thereby; and if you’re hiding His Word in your heart, you’ll be rejoicing to meet Him on high. ~Hess

Do you have questions for when you study that can help you think deeply and grow spiritually? The Bible may be way old, but its truths are always new.

Fresh!!!

We don’t study it for mere head knowledge. Who wants to become puffed up like a religious Pharisee who doesn’t do what Scripture says?

We dig in because we desire to worship the Lord better, to mature spiritually and to practically help others with God’s truth as they apply it. So many people lack understanding. Too many preachers are unclear. We need to be ready to explain the Scriptures in terms people can understand.  

Ask for wisdom and ask God to use you to fish with His Word!

Perhaps in this high-tech world that we live in, there is a new application of an old truth that God will show you as you pursue Him and meditate upon His Scrptures?

One thing to remember… the Bible wasn’t written to us but it was written for us. So with that in mind here are some good questions for any fisher of people to ask as you prayerfully read your Bible.

1.    Who is the author of this letter, book, or passage?

2.    When was it written and who was it written to (the recipients)? Why?

3.    What can I find out about the historical context, the location and background of this book?

4.    Can I see a general outline or structure emerging in this passage?

5.    How many repeating words can I find and without over spiritualizing the text.. is there any significance to this repetition?

6.    Can I discover any prominent theme or unusual words here that call for deep, closer, better investigation?

7.    How does the passage fit into the surrounding paragraph? Chapter? Book?

8.    What is the reason for the author placing this passage or verse here and not in some other context?

9.    In a nutshell, what does the author want us to know and do? Can you put these in two sentences?

10. What is the main point of this passage?

11. Can I see intercession or personal evangelism ..or anything that reveals the missionary heart of God in this text (if you can, perhaps this verse could become the main nugget as you appeal in whatever sort of altar call that God leads to present, pastor/study leader)?

12. How do I think this passage would have touched or affected the original audience?

13.  Is there an eternal truth or principle that can be applied to my own culture where I live?

14.  How does this text reveal the urgency, compassion, burden or holiness of Jesus Christ our Savior?

15.  How does God desire to see this passage function in my life?

16.  What kind of response does this passage call for from you?

17. Can I see ministry happening in the text as a natural outgrowth of spiritual strength from a person’s walk with Jesus? How specifically did the person get so strong in the Lord? Did they put personal worship ahead of ministry service to others? How do you do that in your own life?

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” ~2 Timothy 2:15

Give me the insight, Lord, as I hear Your Word today, so I will truly understand Your Message and Your way. ~Monroe

Now we have received.. the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. ~1 Corinthians 2:12

Do you ever tweet the Word, or inject God's truth into a Facebook conversation? Why not? Do you ever ask for permission to share a Bible verse when you are telling some fellow student or work friend about what Christ has done in your life? 

Maybe there are some more questions to ask that you’d like to add to this list? Feel free.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Be Before You Do, Wait Before You Go, Hear Before You Say!

What you BECOME on this earth matters far more than what you DO on earth.  

In becoming what Christ wants us to be, do we gain godly character, stature, peace, victory and the fruit of the Spirit (which is Love) by merely doing, doing, doing.. more work? Naww. Do we become spiritually balanced, anointed and mature by pushing, pushing, pushing? No no! On the other hand do we appropriate the good things of God by opting to be lazy or never applying the Scriptures. Huh, a thousand times no!!! Oh yes it does matter what you become, but please don’t get me wrong here. What you do and say each day (including your motives, thoughts, inner spirit and attitudes behind all that..) is very important to God for sure and it does involve attentive listening and obeying. No time for having a hard heart! Becoming a person of God is imperative for you (and me)! You are indeed gunna take your character and personal relationship with Christ on to heaven with you believer (as well as many of your willing friends ..hopefully..by faith) even though you'll leave all your dusty medals and treasured certificates all behind. Will it be sad? On the contrary, IT WILL BE RAD-EXCITING TO BE CAUGHT AWAY LEAVING THE JUNK OF THIS WORLD BEHIND!

Christian, what you won’t be taking along with you is your position, your six digit income (or whatever level of pay you're compensated with..), your career, your corner office with that comfy tall leather executive chair, that super cool downtown view, your social status or your temporal shinny trophies. News Flash.. all your stuff and your degrees are non-transferable. We live in an accomplishment, doing, success orientated society and that's the reason why we all need to be extra careful about our busyness and horizontal commitments today. 
    
"But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall BE WITNESSES to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." ~Acts 1:8 (emphasis mine)

“He does not delight in the strength of the horse; He takes no pleasure in the legs of a man. The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, In those who hope in His mercy.” ~ Psalm 147:10-11

“You ARE My witnesses,’ says the Lord, ‘And My servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after Me.” ~Isaiah 43:10

Christian, do you feel like a hero or a zero in God’s Kingdom today? Do you feel like a second class citizen today when you see all that some other minister is doing for the Lord?  Cheer up, you ain’t! Quit comparing yourself with other believers. You are not there to compete with them.

Why would you feel like a hero if it’s God who gets the credit for the great accomplishments His servants do in God’s empowering grace? Why would you feel like a zero if God’s Word teaches that your great value and identity are not tied up in what you do for Him? Cheer up, He simply asks that you remain faithful and obedient to Him.

Don’t let any Christian, (including me..) or any well-meaning pastor pressure you into more service unto Christ, or put condemnation on you for not doing enough. If you really don’t want to do it, or give, then don’t. God’s purposes will be accomplished. He doesn’t need you, me or what we can give Him. Salvation is of the Lord, and us bringing closure on the Great Commission is mainly his deal. We are privileged to be a part of it.. if we like. That’s why we can experience JOY ..and don’t ever need to become burned out in Him. If we get burned out, it’s because we took upon ourselves something He never intended for us to take.

"Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me (Jesus), for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” ~Matthew 11:28-29

Jesus must remain your Lord and first love, not another person. Let Christ lead you and as you continue to seek Him and His Kingdom first, then guess what.. He will bless you and give you the desire to serve in the areas that He wants you in.

Ministry at church can become an idol if you are not careful, but why become a workaholic with leanness of soul ..for God.. just because you want to stay in good graces with some workaholic flawed human leader who insists upon forming you into his own image, instead of letting God form you into Christ’s image?

Prioritizing God first does not mean putting your relationship with God along with your full or part-time ministry work for God ..first. Your relationship with Him comes first, your spouse comes second and your children come third! Your worship of the Lord is to come before all your service for the Lord. Of course there will be times when you will worship Jesus as you serve with Him in practical ways. Pray without ceasing!

 “But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.’ And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed…” ~Luke 10:40-42

"There is too much working before men and too little waiting before God. There is more and more motion and less and less unction!" ~A. Redpath

He who would talk to men about God, would do well, to first talk to God about men!

Before there was Holy Spirit empowering in the upper room for the Jesus team who wanted to go preach the Gospel, there was waiting on the Holy Spirit in the upper room!

“Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord! ~Psalm 27:14

“But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” ~Isaiah 40:31

At any given moment you are either abiding in Christ the living Word and wonder worker, or you are striving in the flesh to get it all done so that perhaps you can please Him. We are to work hard and be diligent as unto Him when He leads us to work. But you were saved by faith. You weren’t saved by good works, so why trust in working hard until you drop just to gain you extra bonus grace or brownie points upstairs?

“Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” ~Galatians 3:3 
    
"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” ~John 15:4-8

All believers are witnesses whether they like it or not.. good or bad witnesses ..depending on their vertical trust and obedience to Christ. Every Christian is a representative for God—good or bad. Which type will you opt to be today? Separation unto the Lord typically comes before a visitation of the Lord. Please take the time to pray and hear from Him.