Are You Committed to the Church?

Are you committed to the church…or simply dating it? 1 Corinthians 12:12, “the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.”


How Can We Make the Most Our Time? Part 2

Previously we looked at three principles for time management from Ephesians 5:15-17. #1 Look closely at your life, #2 Plan your day, & #3 Don’t procrastinate. To finish the study lets look at three more principles to honor Christ with our time.

(4) Appreciate interruptions. Look at how Jesus dealt with interruptions. 
Luke 8:41-56, “And there came a man named Jairus, who was a ruler of the synagogue. And falling at Jesus’ feet, he implored him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying. 
 As Jesus went, the people pressed around him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone. She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased. And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.” And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”
  While he was still speaking, someone from the ruler’s house came and said, “Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the Teacher any more.” But Jesus on hearing this answered him, “Do not fear; only believe, and she will be well.” And when he came to the house, he allowed no one to enter with him, except Peter and John and James, and the father and mother of the child. And all were weeping and mourning for her, but he said, “Do not weep, for she is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But taking her by the hand he called, saying, “Child, arise.” And her spirit returned, and she got up at once. And he directed that something should be given her to eat. And her parents were amazed, but he charged them to tell no one what had happened.”
As J. Oswald Sanders states, interruptions can be “divinely interjected opportunities.” If God is in control of all things, he is definitely in control of the interruptions of our day.
(5) Delegate. Don’t let yourself get burned out, being a one-man band. Exodus 18:14-23, “When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, and all the people stand around you from morning till evening?”  And Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because zthe people come to me to inquire of God;  awhen they have a dispute, they come to me and I decide between one person and another, and I bmake them know the statutes of God and his laws.”  Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good.  You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. cYou are not able to do it alone.  Now obey my voice; I will give you advice, and God be with you! You shall drepresent the people before God and ebring their cases to God,  and you shall warn them about the statutes and the laws, and make them know fthe way in which they must walk and gwhat they must do.  Moreover, look for hable men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens.  And ilet them judge the people at all times. jEvery great matter they shall bring to you, but any small matter they shall decide themselves. So it will be easier for you, and they will kbear the burden with you.  If you do this, God will direct you, you will be lable to endure, and all this people also will go to their place in peace.”  

What does this teach us? DELEGATE! Do only the things no one else can do. This is not a principal of laziness to get out of work…but to ensure the work is done.
(6) Praise God for the time He has given and His unfailing love during our failures. Psalm 103:15-18, “As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.”

How Can We Make the Most Our Time? Part 1

Ephesians 5:15-17, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
Ever felt like there’s not enough hours in the day? And definitely not enough hours at night for sleep? How can we make the most of our time? 
(1) Look Closely at Your Life (Eph 5:15). God wants us to be wise in the way that we manage our time.We need to slow down or even stop, and take a good look at all that you are doing. What eats up most of your time, because that’s eating up your life? If you want to save time, you need to figure out where you are losing it first. Find out the time leaks, identify the time wasters. If you find yourself asking all the time, “Where did my time go?” You need to stop and inspect your lifestyle.
(2) Begin to plan your day (Eph 5:16) “making the best use of your time.” Psalm 90:12, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Schedule your day. Get a calendar and use it. The downside to scheduling the day is there will inevitably be failures, so celebrate the small victories. Its very easy to focus on the failures. Not being able to scratch another daily goal off the list can be very disheartening. Also don’t compare yourselves with other people and families, just because someone else is doing something one way doesn’t mean its best for your family. Every family situation is different, just focus on honoring Christ with your time.
(3) Be wise and Don’t procrastinate (Eph 5:17). Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Prov. 27:1, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.” Motivate yourself with the text. James 4:17 speaks very strongly against procrastination. He says, “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” Sin is not merely doing wrong, it is failing to do what you ought to do. We must cultivate a habit of instant obedience before God and motivate my heart to be prompt. After all this is what we require of our children is it not?
Procrastination takes away opportunities for growth. Procrastination and disobedience are two shades of the same sin. All of us have different areas that we procrastinate in and each area is different for all of us. What are you putting off when it comes to your spiritual growth? Have you ever heard someone say, “I would like to read my Bible but I just don’t have time.” Or have you caught yourself saying it or thinking it? Procrastination also takes away opportunities for service. James 4:13-14, “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” Hebrews 3:13, “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Galatians 6:10, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good to all men.” God is always putting things on our heart to minister to others. So many times, we get so busy with our own needs and failures we neglect ministry. How often have you wanted to get involved in ministry and because of being behind on tasks, ministry takes a backseat. You cannot love and serve people without investing some of your time in them. You also cannot love and serve a church without investing some of your time in its ministries. Psalm 119:60 says, “I made haste, and did not delay to keep Your commandments.”

Next I’ll touch on three more principles of time management that I pray will encourage you to use your time to honor Christ.

Why Should We Take Refuge in God?

Psalm 16 is a Psalm of David…we don’t know the specifics of the occasion of the Psalm, however there is speculation that it could be when the Philistines seized him in Gath or possibly during his fleeing from Saul. Whatever the case, David is crying out to God for protection. Psalm 16:1, “Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.” Preserve comes from the Hebrew word shamar means to keep, watch or to preserve, or as one lexicon states that it could have the meaning to guard. Spurgeon writes, “guard me” even as bodyguards surround their monarch, or as shepherds protect their flocks.” So when David says preserve me, there is a definite desire for God’s protection. David’s faith in God is not just vocal, but is actual…having faith that knows God will preserve and protect him.
David’s declaration of faith in God’s preservation and protection is followed in verses 2-11 with 5 reasons to take refuge in God. So why should we take refuge in God?

(1) God is Our Lord and Master. Psalm 16:2, “I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord.” You cannot expect to take refuge in God, If you haven’t first been saved by God. Refuge and protection in this life is worthless without refuge in eternity. God has planned his eternal refuge through the death of His Son so that God’s justice would be accomplished as Christ took our sin debt. If by faith we receive God’s grace we will have eternal refuge.

(2) God is the Source of Every Good Thing (Psalm 16:2-4). There are some differences in the translations of the last phrase of verse 2… “I have no good apart from you.” (ESV), “Every good thing I have comes from you.” (NLT), “my goodness extendeth not to thee.” (KJV). These are some significant differences, the ESV and the NLT focusing on God’s good to us, positively. The KJV focuses on the fact that our good deeds do not extend to God, negatively. Both of these are correct, they are translating the same phrase from a different vantage point. A simple analogy to better understand this point. Its like watching this years Super Bowl from the Packers sideline vs. the Steelers sideline this year. The Packers won is one outlook. The Steelers lost is the other outlook. Both are correct just different aspects of the same truth. One will have a positive outlook on its description of the action…one will have a negative outlook. It is true, nothing good comes to us from anything other than God. It is also true that God does not need us. Acts 17:24-25, “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything” (ESV). Spurgeon writes, “God would have been inconceivably glorious had the human race perished, and had no atonement been offered. Although the life-work and death-agony of the Son did reflect unparalleled luster upon every attribute of God, yet the Most blessed and infinitely happy God stood in no need of the obedience and death of His Son; it was for our sakes that the work of redemption was undertaken…”
As David continues in Psalm 16:3-4 he contrasts between godly and the idolatrous. The godly people in the land are my heroes. Within these 2 verses we see God’s hatred of sin as well as the sinners longing for it. How often are we as believers slow to towards the true God, But sinners chase after other gods. Or as Spurgeon said, “They run like madmen where we creep like snails.” This contrast is clear in who he seeks to keep company with in his life. It is not those who are idolaters, but those who seek after God.
(3) God is Our Inheritance (Psalm 16:5-6). Are you satisfied with your possessions? That is what David is using to point back to God. I love the ESV study bible notes here as I think it nailed it…“The terms portion, lot, lines, and inheritance evoke the allocation of the land into family plots… The song promotes contentment with the arrangements of one’s life, seeing them as providentially ordered.” “The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance” (ESV, v.6). This verse is dealing with property lines, and that David is pleased with his possessions. They have fallen in good places, and he realizes that his physical inheritance is very good. But that is not David’s focus…“THE LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.” (v.5) Whatever our status financially David reminds us that our ultimate inheritance is God Himself.
(4) God Directs Our Paths. (Psalm 16:7-8). Wondering what step is next in your life? David says here’s how you do…put God first. V.8, “I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken,” (ESV). He puts God first, because he knows God will give him counsel And as he meditates on God and His Word, his heart instructs him. C.S. Lewis, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and do as you please.” If our hearts and lives led by the Spirit and entrenched in God and His Word we can do as we please, because our actions will be influenced by Christ and will exalt Him.
(5) God’s Security Brings Rejoicing (Psalm 16:9-11). God’s security is not just in the eternal, but physical as well. Does this mean that this is a promise of no suffering? Unfortunately so many Christians believe that Jesus came to die only for an example and to give us a prosperous life. It is true that Christ proclaimed that he came “to give life, and to give it more abundantly.” (John 10:10). However Christ later in John’s gospel also states that there will be tribulations and persecutions. Further, the apostle Paul also states in Romans 8 that sufferings are not just a little possibility or for just those “who have not followed Christ the way they should.” Paul proclaims the joy and praise to God through sufferings that WILL face the life of every true believer. David is proclaiming that through present and future sufferings that God will be our refuge. During these sufferings God, “will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever,” (11) (NLT).
What would your response be in a life threatening situation such as David’s? Better yet, what would your response be in a trivial difficulty in comparison? Would it be to complain? Murmur? Point the finger at God? What is David’s response? Unashamed praise to God! I will end with David’s words in verse Psalm 16:9, “… No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice,” (NLT).

Love You Mom!

As mother’s day is coming tomorrow morning, it gives us time to reflect on the wonderful woman who endured painful labor to bring us into the world and in some cases even more pain raising the stubborn and sinful child.

As I think of my mom, I think of Proverbs 31. First of all the greatest love she showed to me, is her love of my dad (31:12). A great example of how to have a loving home, and also the humility to admit when things were not done according to God’s design so that I could learn from her mistakes. Strength and dignity were in fact my mom’s clothing (31:25) as she modeled integrity and a quiet strength. My mom was instrumental in imparting wisdom, “She opens her mouth with wisdom and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue” (31:26).  These along with many of the other traits of a godly woman in Proverbs 31 causes me to rise up and call my mom blessed.

I am grateful to my mom for her years of investment in my life, and I am also grateful that I now have a wife that is modeling these same traits to my children. To my wonderful mom and to beautiful wife of my children, I love you both. Happy Mothers Day.

Is Your Heart Confident in God?

Psalm 57 is a Psalm written of David that according to the prescription was written when he fled from Saul and hid in the cave, probably referring to 1 Samuel 22 or 24. The Psalm begins with David crying out for mercy, that God what protect him. (vs. 1-2). He then moves into confidence knowing that God in fact will come down from Heaven and not only rescue him, but disgrace his enemies (v. 3). I love the fact that David cry’s out to God, not neglecting prayer and still expecting something to happen, but longs for God’s mercy, and knows that God will hear him and take action.

David then gives some poetic ways of describing his circumstances (vs. 4-6) by stating he’s surrounded by fierce lions who desire to devour him, that his enemies have set a trap to ensnare him, but ends with although they have dug the pit for him, it is they who have fallen into the trap.

What would your response be in a life threatening situation such as David’s? Better yet, what would your response be in a trivial difficulty in comparison? Would it be to complain? Murmur? Point the finger at God? What is David’s response? Unashamed praise to God! Psalm 57:7-11 (NLT):

7    My heart is confident in you, O God; 
my heart is confident. 
No wonder I can sing your praises! 
Wake up, my heart! 
Wake up, O lyre and harp! 
I will wake the dawn with my song. 
I will thank you, Lord, among all the people. 
I will sing your praises among the nations. 
10  For your unfailing love is as high as the heavens. 
Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. 
11    Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens. 
May your glory shine over all the earth.

Is your heart confident in God today?
Soli Deo Gloria

What is Your Favorite Bible Verse?

I was asked by a coworker today this question, “What is your favorite bible verse?” My initial reaction was to give him a verse that has been a staple in my spiritual growth, a so-called life verse if you will. So I told him Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

As I began to think about that question throughout the rest of my shift and even tonight, I was struck with how frivolous an answer I really gave to him. To pick one short statement out of the entirety of God-breathed, infallible Scripture is almost unthinkable. The right answer may be as obvious and simple as a child’s answer when you ask them what they learned in Sunday School…they say about Jesus. The entirety of Scripture is equally important as it lays out the framework of redemptive history from the fall of man into a depravity of sin, the promise of a coming Messiah, the Messiah’s substitutionary death and resurrection to pay the penalty of our sin debt and give the hope of our future resurrection, culminating in the exaltation of Christ for all eternity where we will not just have paradise, but have sweet communion with our God and Savior Jesus Christ for all eternity.

What is your favorite bible verse?  All of it!

Soli Deo Gloria

Victory in My Disgrace

Those who have gone through the horrors of sexual abuse face multiple trails even after the attack. Whether it is fear, shame or the multiple other emotional turmoils. This post on The Resurgence is a great reminder of the grace of God in such circumstances.

A book I would recommend also is from the Resurgence Literature library also known as Re:lit, entitled, Rid of My Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault.

How Should We Respond to the Death of the Wicked?

With the recent death of Osama Bin Laden, my thoughts immediately did not jump to answer this biblically. Like many Americans, my initial reaction was relief and to some extent joy, I mean this man was a mass-murderer of thousands of Americans and has continued to terrorize in many ways. How should we react in situations where wicked, evil men are destroyed, especially when they have caused you or others close to you great pain?

First, it is right to desire justice for sin. Especially for the murder of innocent lives, in fact justice must be carried out, Genesis 9:6, Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed,  for God made man in his own image.” In Revelation souls that have been martyred for their faith in Christ cry out for justice. Revelation 6:10, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 

Second, do not take pleasure in the death of the wicked. This is where many of us in situations such as these cross the line into sin. We know justice must be played out, but we take pleasure in seeing their demise. Ezekiel 33:11, “As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways…” God does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked, no matter how wicked they are and neither should we as believers in Christ. Our desire should be that they turn from their way, turn from their sin and to God and live. Do we truly pray and desire for the salvation of Muslim terrorists that they would turn from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light?

As Christians we should praise the Lord for His justice when He judges the wicked, but also be saddened as we realize another soul has perished to eternal hellfire. Let us be faithful to preach the gospel to every person, realizing that we too would be bound for the same eternal punishment if it were not for Christ’s complete and redemptive work on the cross.

Soli Deo Gloria