Tuesday, June 11, 2013

2 Prayers for Today

1) Create in me a clean heart- David cried in Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” The word “clean” here is the word for “pure.” Today, I want to be pure from the failures of yesterday. We all have some thing that plagued us yesterday and caused us to miss the mark of God’s standard. Yet, thanks to the blood of Jesus Christ, we can be cleansed from that failure and free not to be chained to it today. My prayer is, “Oh Lord, let me walk in the newness of this day, purer today because of Jesus’ blood and more free because of the Holy Spirit within me.”

2) Consecrate me more to the service of the kingdom- Paul declared in Philippians 3:13, “…but this ONE thing I do…” The longer I live, the more I see that the things I thought were of importance are really nothing more than vanity and the things I thought could wait, are the things that are of utmost importance. The world tells of daily to work for things and use people, but I want to work for people and use things to do it. Today, I want to be more fully committed to the building of Christ’s kingdom and the service of His church than I was yesterday. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

What's Happening to the Church in America?

The Pew Research center released a survey today (October 9, 2012) with the title “None’s on the Rise.” The subtitle reads, “One-in-Five Adults Have No Religious Affiliation.” It is a startling survey that speaks about the decline of the church and “religion” in the overall life of Americans. You can read the article for yourself at http://www.pewforum.org/Unaffiliated/nones-on-the-rise.aspx. Below, I have highlighted the ten most astounding things I took away from this survey.

  1. “One-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling.
  2. “A third of adults under 30 have no religious affiliation (32%), compared with just one-in-ten who are 65 and older (9%).”
  3. “Overwhelmingly, they think that religious organizations are too concerned with money and power, too focused on rules and too involved in politics.”
  4. “15.3% of U.S. adults answered a question about their current religion by saying they were atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular.”
  5. “The new Pew Research Center/Religion & Ethics News Weekly survey finds that about three-quarters of unaffiliated adults were raised with some affiliation (74%).”
  6. “The number of Americans who currently say religion is very important in their lives (58%)… is far higher than in Britain (17%), France (13%), Germany (21%) or Spain (22%).”
  7. “By 2012, 29% of U.S. adults indicated they seldom or never attend religious services.”
  8. “The percentage of Americans who say the Bible should be taken literally has fallen [to] an average of about 38%.”
  9. “Two-thirds of Americans, including 63% of the religiously unaffiliated, say religion as a whole is losing its influence on American life.”
  10. “88% of religiously unaffiliated Americans are not actively seeking to find a church or other religious group to join.”
The apostle Paul said to the church at Rome that it is high time for us to awake out of sleep. My prayer is that God will awaken the church because we are slowly losing ground to the forces of evil. There is too much at stake for us to slumber while these perilous times are upon us. It’s time for us to wake up and to shake the sleep from our eyes and realize there is a spiritual war that is raging all around us. It’s time that we awake from our apathy, repent of our hypocrisy, and re-fire on our duty to win the lost at any cost. Jeff Steele said it best in his song when he said, “It’s time for the army of God to arise and say we want America back!”

Saturday, October 6, 2012

A Lesson on the Uncertainty of Life

This week has been a constant reminder of the brevity and uncertainty of life. Monday afternoon I spoke with a pastor’s wife on the phone as I called to check on her and her husband. To my dismay, I found out just four days later that same woman’s health had taken a turn for the worse on Wednesday and she passed away on Thursday morning. I'm sure when this pastor woke up Wednesday morning he was thinking mostly about the message he was going to deliver Wednesday night to his church only to have his world turned upside down in a matter of 24 hours. Now he is a widower planning his wife's funeral. Life changes quickly.

Once again today I was taught the lesson of how quickly life changes as I got a call this morning on my way home from lunch to tell me of a man in our church that had been found dead by his wife. That may not come as a shock to you but it did to me because no less than three days ago I was shaking hands with him at our midweek prayer service. Now death has taken him into eternity. Last night the biggest thing his wife had on her mind was wondering if she would make it to the church in time this morning for the church-wide cleanup that was scheduled; but now she is a widow planning her husband's funeral. Life changes in a moment.

Moses said in Psalm 90, So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom. Solomon said, Boast not thyself of tomorrow for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth. I'm reminded today of how quickly life can change. No one is immune to bad things coming into their life. No one is good enough to exempt them from disaster. No one is promised tomorrow. In light of that, I'm determining today to do several things and by the grace of God I will not be deterred.

1. I will dedicate myself to accomplishing those things that really matter and leaving behind the things that really don't. There are some things in life that really don't matter, but sadly we spend most of our time focusing and worrying on how to accomplish those things to the neglect of the things that really do matter. Life is too short to worry about those things that don't matter. How do you determine what really matters? Here is the litmus test I use: “Is it worth losing everything in order to gain this one thing?” If it passes that test then it is something that really matters.

2. I will dedicate myself to investing in the people in my life that really matter. Have you ever found yourself trying to impress certain people only to feel like a failure because you can’t seem to gain their acceptance? It is a sad story, but we spend the majority of our efforts attempting to win over people that really don't matter while we overlook those people that really do matter. I wonder how many children have been neglected by a father who was trying to win the favor of his boss? Or how many people have neglected their spouse because they wanted to win the favor of a friend? I have often said this, “I refuse to be upset because of the one who doesn’t like me when I can focus of the other people who do like me.” I refuse to waste anymore of my life trying to please people. 

3. I am determined to make a difference for good. In everything that I do I want to do it with the purpose of making a difference. Every word I speak to my son or my wife I want to do it with the intention of making a difference in them for good. Every ministry God allows me to undertake I want to do it with the purpose of making a difference for good. Every message that I preach I want to do it with a determination to make a difference for good.

Life is too uncertain and precious to waste today. The prayer of my heart is that of the psalmist when he said, Awaken my heart, O God. Let me see what I ought to be doing and forgetting those things I shouldn't be doing. 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Soul of The Sluggard

The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.

Proverbs 13:4

I have never lived in another generation than the one that I live in, so it would be fallible for me to compare this generation to another, but I have seen a fundamental shift in the lifestyle of the people around me. There is a laziness that permeates and really defines this generation of young people and old people alike. I have heard it referred to as the “entitlement generation.” We feel that we deserve everything and everything should be handed to us on a silver platter. We view the world as a buffet line in that once we are in the door, we should be able to have anything we see and when we are denied we feel as if we have been stripped of our proverbial “rights”. Our attitude can be summed up in one statement, “the soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing.”

Laziness is not a trait that should define a child of God. My dear friend, the word of God makes one thing very clear, we deserve nothing but death and hell. I am sure it is a sickening feeling the Lord has when He looks at His children who are more than able to work, yet they lay around wasting the energy and time God has given to them. Paul made it clear that if a man refused to work, then he should not eat. If you have the ability to get out of bed and work, that is what you should do. God gave you feet so that you could travel about. God gave you hands so that you could use them. A sluggard is not something that pleases God. He is very plain spoken when He says that they shall have nothing. Oh my friend, are you able to work today? Praise the Lord for the strength to work and then be sure to labor in that position as unto the Lord because God blesses the hand of the diligent.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep...

I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.
Psalm 4:8

As a young boy I remember the nightly ritual that transpired before I would pillow my head to sleep. I would brush my teeth, wash my face, put on my pajamas, and say a little prayer. This is the nightly ritual for most children before they pillow their head at night. The little prayer that parents teach their children to say serves two purposes: it builds the habit of prayer in their life and it gives them a sense of security in God the Father. Often times the night brings fear and fright into the hearts of children, which keeps them from getting a good night’s rest. As the adolescent years give way to teen years, this fear seems to flee the minds of unsuspecting young people as they nightly sleep with little care or concern. But something happens as they grow out of their teen years and become young adults and ultimately full-grown adults, this fear of the night returns. Many fear intruders. Some fear torrential weather. Some worry about the events of tomorrow. Whatever the case, fear grips their heart and hinders them from sleeping in peace.

May I say this is not the will of God. God wishes that all His children slumber in peace. He does not desire you to fear every noise that sounds in the night. He gave sleep to be a blessing, not a burden. God has promised to protect as we sleep and to doubt that is an attack upon sovereignty. He does not yearn for you to stay awake through the night worrying about the torments of the unknown or the problems of tomorrow. Fret not; if tomorrow holds a problem, God is already there. The psalmist boldly proclaimed that he would rest at night because the Lord guards and keeps. The God that redeemed us from sin’s power is the God that protects us through the night. Sleep in peace.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Amnon's Downfall

But Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab…
II Samuel 13:3

The story of Amnon’s fall is a story of how a small weakness can crumble a mighty structure. Here sits Amnon, the son of David, the king of Israel. He was a man of great passion, potential, and position. He had life and the kingdom at his fingertips. His fortune had no bounds and his future had no limits. He was destined for a life of greatness. But all at once, his destiny was changed with one little phrase, “But Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab.” Amnon’s great weakness was not money. It was not jealousy. Amnon’s great weakness was his association and friendship with Jonadab. There is no doubt in my mind that Amnon had many times been around Jonadab and many times heeded his advice, and that weakened his defenses when Jonadab offered his terrible advice concerning Tamar. While some do not agree with me, I am convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jonadab, whose name means “subtle” was the downfall of Amnon and had it not been for Jonadab’s counsel, Amnon would have never raped Tamar. How things would have been different for Amnon if this sentence had never been so, “But Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab.” I am certain that his life would have been completely different and perhaps he may have been the king of Israel instead of Solomon if he had not had the association with Jonadab that he did.

I wonder how many of God’s people have missed out on God’s plan and purpose in their lives because of the people that they hang around. I have seen young people ruin their lives because they would not segregate themselves from wrong influences and those who did not share the same view of Christ as they did. As it was in the case of Amnon and Jonadab, it is not the infidel or heathen that take us from the faith, it is the “subtle” ones that cause us to drift from the faith and our testimony. It is not the raging alcoholic, but the social drinker who cause us to ruin our testimony. It is not the prostitute, but the “flirtatious looker” that draw us away from our purity and fidelity. Oh dear Christian, do not let your guard down against the attacks of the devil. Remember, just as the mighty cedar falls with one swing of the axe, so will you topple with one wrong association.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Power in the Name of Jesus

In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk…
Acts 3:6

When Peter and John left their home on that particular morning, they had no idea what awaited them on their journey. They were walking toward the temple in order that they may pray. They went with the expressed purpose of being blessed, yet before the day was over they would be the vessels God would use to bless someone else. Enter the lame man. As he lay at the gate called Beautiful, he did not realize that this would be the day he would hear the most powerful words that would ever grace his ears. Peter and John made their way to the Temple and passed by this helpless man who sought money, yet that day the men presented him with a miracle. They spoke these words to him, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.” The Bible says the lame man arose walking, leaping, and praising God. This day he heard the most powerful words he would ever hear and they changed his life. What were the words that possessed such power? They were not “rise up” or “walk”. It was not the word “Nazareth” that changed his life. The words that forever altered this man’s life and eternity were “the name of Jesus Christ”. There was no power in the word “rise” or in the word “walk”. There was no power in the name of John. There was no power in the name of Peter. There was no power in the Temple. The power was in the name of Jesus Christ.

It was the power in the name of Jesus Christ that changed my life. It was not the preacher. It was not the church. It was not the drugs or the bottle. It was the name of Jesus Christ. There is power in that name. To the nation that needs forgiveness, there is power in the name of Jesus Christ. To the parents of a rebellious child, there is power in the name of Jesus Christ. To the home that is ruptured by sin, there is power in the name of Jesus Christ. For the marriage that is broken, there is power in the name of Jesus Christ. For the church that is cold and indifferent, there is power in the name of Jesus Christ. For the preacher who feels inadequate, there is power in the name of Jesus Christ. To the Christian who has given up hope, there is power in the name of Jesus Christ. There has always been power and there will always be sufficient power in the name of Jesus Christ.