Thursday, April 30, 2015


Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God. (Psalms 43:5)

A thermometer shows the temperature, but a thermostat sets the temperature.  As a child of God I can reflect the climate of the circumstances I am in, or I can choose to see the situation from God's perspective and set my heart accordingly.  In Psalms 42-43 we find a man in great difficulty and tempted to be a thermometer reacting to his environment with despair.  Instead, he decides to be a thermostat by rejoicing in the hope he has in God.  Here is how it is done.

Let sorrow give way to song (Ps.42:1-5). You can be DEDICATED THOUGH DISTRESSED IN TEARFUL TIMES.  Imagine a deer relentlessly pursued by hunters--the hounds hot on its trail--panting for water and strength to escape.  That describes the writer of this psalm.  Maybe it's how you feel today.  Trouble is chasing you and you need help.  One of the dangers at this point is to try to find wisdom by drinking from the world's polluted streams.  The Psalmist chooses to seek God--who alone can satisfy the thirst of our soul.  There is where hope is found.  Each stanza ends with that affirmation (42:5,11; 43:5).

See storms give way to sunshine (Ps.42:6-11).  You can be DETERMINED THOUGH DEPRESSED IN TROUBLED TIMES.  The psalmist is sinking fast.  Troubled times have come--like waves relentlessly breaking over him, threatening to drown him in despair.  Yet, he speaks of "Your waterfalls" and "Your waves," recognizing the sovereignty of God in the storms. God has a purpose (see Rom.8:28).  If the problems are permitted then we know He has a higher good in mind.  The same sovereign God commands His lovingkindness to come, as the writer cries out for help.  God is the Rock he can stand on.  A shaft of sunshine--radiant hope--breaks through the clouds.  Despite how he feels, he makes a choice, "I will remember" (42:6); "I will say" (42:9); "I will go to the altar...I will praise" (43:4).  Where there is a will there is a way.

See strife give way to serenity (43:1-5).  You can be DELIVERED THOUGH DISTURBED IN TOUGH TIMES.  The sacred writer uses the language of the courtroom to plead his case (v.1).  Still, it seemed God was oblivious to his plight (v.2).  He knew that only the light of truth could be a beacon to bring him out of the darkness of despair (v.3).  In John Bunyan's, "Pilgrim's Progress," Christian is imprisoned in Doubting Castle, held by a giant named Despair, when he escapes by using the key of promise.  Such is the power of the Word to free us!  The light on his path would lead the way to the house of God, where he would offer sacrifices of delight and songs of deliverance (v.4).  There hope is found despite the situation (v.5).  The house of God is the place to calibrate your thermostat (read Heb.10:24-25).  If you stay away, you may be sure the world will set your temperature, and you will cool off spiritually.

Will you be a thermometer or a thermostat?                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


All the days of his separation he shall be holy to the LORD. (Numbers 6:8)

God takes delight in those devoted to Him.  As a human father finds joy when someone says,  "He looks just like you!" or "She acts like her Daddy!" thus the Heavenly Father rejoices when His children favor Him.  He is holy and calls us to be holy.

In the passage before us--Numbers 6--we see those who passionately pursued holiness.  They were called Nazirites.  This vow was voluntary.  It was not from any outward compulsion, but an inward conviction that the man or woman choose this special consecration to God.  The word, "Nazirite," means "separation," and speaks of those who have separated themselves to God to a special degree.

God delights in those who serve Him--not from grudging obligation, but in glad devotion.  There is a vast difference between my saying, "I've got to go to worship today," and "I get to go to worship today!"  The former is like the husband who brings his wife a hamburger, tosses it on the table, while he retreats to the recliner and immerses himself in TV, contrasted with the husband who takes his wife out to a nice dinner and is engrossed in conversation with her.  It is not the giver who feels compelled to give--paying his debt to God as he or she pays the government taxes--but, the giver who fervently celebrates to give--expressing love for the Lord in response to His generosity to him or her--that God loves.

Sounds extreme, doesn't it?  How excessive is God's love for us?  Higher than the heavens, deeper than the oceans, wider than the universe, and longer than time--from eternity to eternity--most graphically expressed in the indescribable suffering of Christ for sinners like we are!  No wonder after Paul spent eleven chapters in Romans developing the doctrine of justification by faith, that he would give the call to complete sanctification in the remaining chapters as our proper response--the pivotal verses being 12:1-2:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)

The Nazirite's joy was not to be found in the world, but in the Lord.  He or she must be willing to bear the reproach of being, "different," because of devotion.  Anything defiling was to be scrupulously avoided.  This is to be our response to God's amazing grace!

Is it surprising that after the dedication expressed by the Nazirites, that we have the benediction exclaimed by the Lord?  This is the devotion that brings God delight!  Nothing brings God pleasure more than when we exhibit such pleasure in Him.  Aaron would call upon God for provision, protection, and peace for God's people--and how we need that today!  Our devotion is the unobstructed channel through which those blessings flow.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Go forth, O daughters of Zion, And see King Solomon with the crown With which his mother crowned him On the day of his wedding, The day of the gladness of his heart. (Song of Solomon 3:11)

Our weddings seem to make the groom a supporting character, with the bride being the star of the show.  Have you ever read the write up in the newspaper?  It tells about the beauty of her dress--the length and design of it--and descriptions are glowingly given of her veil, bouquet, and the number and dress of her attendants.  You know how the wedding begins--the mothers are seated, and the pastor leads the groom and best man out a side door.  They wait and watch as the wedding march begins--then everyone stands as they play, "Here comes the bride!"  Down the center aisle she comes, escorted by her father--all eyes are on her.  Having officiated at a host of weddings, I can attest that I have never seen anything except a beautiful bride--though there have been a few close calls!

Weddings in Bible times were very different.  The groom got his due!  He wasn't an afterthought and accessory--he was the main attraction!  This is especially true when it was a royal wedding.  Here we see King Solomon coming to his wedding day.

The Song of Solomon expresses the lyrics of love.  It is the glorious gift of intimacy the Lord intends for a husband and wife to enjoy.  The poetic images are sensual, but not smutty.  They speak of pleasure without being pornographic.

Having said that, it is also appropriate to find in this an illustration of God's love for Israel, and Christ's love for the church.  We can see that Paul had no difficulty seamlessly weaving practical implication in the family with theological application in the church concerning marriage in Ephesians 5:22-32.

The first five verses of Song of Solomon, chapter three, show the passion that has been building during their courtship.  She desires him so, that she dreams of him--and in her mind seeks him that she might embrace him.  She longs for the consummation of their love--although she asks her friends to hold her accountable for maintaining her virginity until the wedding night (v.5).  The child of God understands that restless longing to be with Jesus--that nothing can compare with the joy of seeing Him face to face.

When the night is past, some golden daybreak Jesus will come.  King Solomon is seen coming in regal splendor to claim his bride in v.6-11.  It is the day of his wedding and he is glad!  Do we desire to see Christ?  He will delight to be with us!  That day will surely arrive.  I sense it is near!

Perhaps the angels will strum their harps and the hosts of heaven will sing, "Here comes the Bridegroom!"   What if it were today?

Monday, April 27, 2015


Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.  (Hebrews 2:1)

Imagine floating in an inner tube down a lazy river.  The sun is beaming down on you, while the cool water swirls beneath you.  It is the perfect environment for nodding off to sleep.  But, the river becomes swifter and you go farther, much farther than you intended.  What’s that roaring sound? You snap wide awake—just ahead is the mist and thunder of a waterfall.  It’s too late to escape the current—the pull is too strong—now you are plunging down, down to the jagged rocks and deep pool below.  That is the danger of drifting--and spiritually it can be just as deadly.  

There is THE RISK (v.1b).  When this discussion begins, it starts with the word, “Therefore.” This word connects what will be said about the danger of Christians drifting with the doctrine of Christ’s deity presented in chapter one.  He is supreme in revelation—the last word from God which was greater than the words of the Old Testament prophets (1:1-2a).  He is supreme in creation—Christ made and sustains all things by the sheer power of His word (1:2b-3a).  He is supreme in mediation—having secured salvation for us as both the priest and the sacrifice (1:3b).  He is supreme in exaltation—so much so that even angels are His servants (1:4ff). This will be the anchor that can hold them and prevent them from drifting away.  These Jews who had professed faith in Christ now found themselves facing intensifying hostility from the world.  They were in danger of drifting—slowly slipping away in the current of peer pressure—the downward flow away from Christ.  You feel that don't you?  The danger is that drifting is so gradual, so easy that one may not even notice. In fact, you don’t have to do anything to drift—just stop resisting and away you go.

To resist this demands THE REQUIREMENT (v.1a).  This is an imperative: “we must....”   You have to make a conscious effort—it is swimming upstream, and that isn’t easy.  You never drift toward Christ, but always away.  So, “give the more earnest heed”  The current is very strong and at the end one will be swept over the falls and dash on the rocks!  This is how many make “shipwreck of their faith” (see 1 Tim. 1:18-20).  The tragedy of the Titanic could have been avoided had the ship's captain heeded the warnings.  Are you listening?

Drift and keep drifting and there comes THE RUIN (v.2-4).  The Old Testament law had specific and sometimes very severe penalties for disobedience.  The writer talks about how the law was delivered from God to Moses through the medium of angels.  We have already seen that Christ is far superior to angels.  One may be forgiven for transgressing God's laws, but to forsake Christ is to abandon hope.  A true believer may drift, may struggle, but will heed the warning and return, but those who finally, fully walk away are lost forever.  It is the difference between Peter who denied Jesus and Judas who betrayed Him.  Notice that this is “neglect” of salvation.  Hell will be filled with people who intended to get right with God, but just procrastinated, and neglected their soul while pursuing the things of the world—until too late!  Resist the drift!  It never ends well.

Sunday, April 26, 2015


The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD,
And He delights in his way.  (Psalm 37:23)

You who are graduating are going to be making the biggest decisions of your lives in the next few years: you will be deciding about continuing your education, getting married, and about your career.  Do you want to just make a living or make a life?  Will you graduate to greatness?  I’m not talking about fortune and fame—and all that the world says constitute greatness.   I mean true greatness—a life that makes an impact for God and for good.  David tells us how.

You must EXHIBIT FEARLESSNESS (v.1-4).  Fear will paralyze us.  Panic will drive us into bad decisions.  As we look at our world today, there is every reason to fear.  God, however, calls us to walk by faith and not by sight.  David was only a youth when he went out to fight a ten-foot giant armed only with a slingshot.  Human perspective would lead one to conclude, “He’s too big to beat!” David chose heaven’s perspective and concluded, “He’s too big to miss!”  Henry Blackaby has said, “Fear is having faith in the enemy.”  Who is bigger—the enemy or God?

Those who graduate to greatness also EXPRESS FAITHFULNESS (v.5-6).  These verses have been life-changing to me.  It was the evening of July 30, 1976 that my wife, Marilyn, and I were in an open air auditorium on a warm summer night at the Ben Lippen Conference Center.  The late Stephen Olford took this text and challenged us to full-time Christian service.  We had been wrestling with God’s call on our young lives and that night we both stepped out and surrendered to the will of God.  We signed a card, “Lord Jesus, anything, anywhere, anytime, I am ready.”  We embarked on an incredible journey and we haven’t looked back.  We have tried to be faithful to God’s call.  A life of impact for God does not require you to be a pastor or missionary.  God needs His people in all walks of life.  Be faithful wherever God stations you.

People of impact EXCLUDE FRETFULNESS (v.7-8). Three times in these verses we are told this!  The word literally means, “to boil”—we’d say, “hot under the collar.”  It happens when we see others succeed even though we may have worked harder; or someone else gets ahead by cheating while we try to do it right.  Do not get steamed when you think life isn’t fair—it isn’t.  Neither is God, by the way—He is just—which means in the end He’ll do right.  All fretfulness will do is give you ulcers or stroke.  Anger will poison your relationships: with your spouse, kids, fellow workers—even with God!

Those who graduate to greatness EXPERIENCE FRUITFULNESS (v.9-11).  This is a life that will make a difference in the world.  To the Jew, all the blessing of God was tied up in the land—a land flowing with milk and honey.  Jesus quoted this passage as a promise to the meek.  We do not get ahead by striving but serving—not by promoting yourself, but humbling yourself.  When we desire only what God desires, then He delights to give what we desire.  If you commit yourself to God, then it becomes His responsibility to enable you to fulfill that commitment.  Where God’s finger points, His hand provides.  David experienced this fruitfulness.  Where others saw a shepherd boy, God saw a king.  Step out in faith, and graduate to greatness!


Saturday, April 25, 2015



Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth,
Before the difficult days come,
And the years draw near when you say, “I have no pleasure in them” (Ecclesiastes 12:1)

John Phillips tells the story how a spider descended on a single thread from a barn’s lofty rafters.  He wove his intricate web near a window.  It was an excellent choice, with many flies buzzing around, providing the spider opportunity to get fat and prosperous.  One day he noticed a stray strand reaching up into the darkness.  Forgetting its significance, he snapped the thread.  Instantly, his whole world collapsed.  That is what happened to Solomon.  In his youth, he maintained his connection with God—a strand reaching up into the unseen.  Then he grew prosperous and forgot the importance of that connection.  He cut the lines of communication with the Lord and his whole world caved in.  Ecclesiastes is a tour of the wreckage of a man who made shipwreck of his faith—a sermon from the lips of a foolish old king. 

This message begins with THE AUTHOR (1:1-11).  Solomon expresses such cynicism and despair.  Could this possibly be the same Solomon, who asked God for wisdom to govern?  Who constructed the temple for worship?  Who prayed such a magnificent prayer that the glory of God filled the house of God?  It was and it wasn’t—biologically he was the same person, but spiritually he was not.  His life was full, yet his heart was empty.  There is a God-shaped vacuum in every heart—a hole in your soul—that only God can fill.  Everything else is futile (v.2).  Solomon presents life from the perspective of a man “under the sun” (v.3).  We cannot make sense of life unless we view it from heaven’s perspective.   

Next, consider THE ACTIVITY (1:12-2:11).  Solomon tried to fill the hole in his soul, but he looked in wrong direction: “under the sun”—from a worldly viewpoint. He tried to fill his life WITH LEARNING (1:12-18).  Education is fine, yet it can lead to pride, “Knowledge puffs up” the Bible says.  Solomon tried to fill his life WITH LUST (2:1-2).  Solomon knew how to party hearty, but the next day he was still empty.  He had a thousand women—beautiful, exotic women, yet the sensations quickly faded.  He tried to fill his life WITH LIQUOR (2:3).  This foolish old king forgot what he had written (Prov.23:29-35).  Alcohol may take the edge off the pain, but when you wake with a hangover, then what?  He tried to fill the void WITH LABOR (2:4-6).  Many try to find fulfillment in their work.  How terrible it is to climb the ladder of success only to reach the top and find it was leaning on the wrong wall!  He tried to fill the hole WITH LUXURY (2:7-8).  He was the richest man who ever lived, yet that did not make him happy.  Happiness was as elusive as trying to grasp the wind (2:9-11). 

Now, we come to THE APPLICATION (12:13-14).  Solomon has come full circle—he has learned from his errors and now will help us.  REMEMBER YOUR CREATOR (12:1-7)  Now is the time—life will rush by like a leaf driven by the wind.  All of us have that appointment with death.  REVERE YOUR CREATOR (12:13-14).  After death it is too late for the sinner to be saved.  It will be too late for the Christian to make a difference.  Live on earth for eternity—that is wisdom!

Friday, April 24, 2015


not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit….  (Titus 3:5)

Is your salvation real?  Can your claim stand the scrutiny of eternity?  It is a most important issue.  That some salvation professions are spurious is evident.  Jesus, for instance spoke of tares sown among the wheat—those who appeared much like converts, but were counterfeits (Matt.13:24-30).  They would be virtually indistinguishable—particularly, at first.  The end of the age would bring the great separation.  I went through all the motions when I was young—prayed the prayer, walked the aisle, submitted to baptism, attended the church, but I was lost!  When I hit those teenage years what I was on the inside, manifested itself on the outside.  Still, all that time, I was going to church, and believed in my head all that the Bible said.  Indeed, there were times I trembled in fear for the possibility of being consigned to hell.  Thankfully, my life here and my destiny hereafter was changed at the age of eighteen.  Paul tells us what real salvation is in the third chapter of Titus.

It involves real REPENTANCE (v.3).  Real salvation begins by seeing ourselves the way we truly are—sinners condemned before a holy God.  This brings conviction, confession, and conversion.  Repentance is a change of mind leading to a change of direction.  Paul speaks of how we were.  If the way we were is still the way we are, there is no repentance!

This repentance leads to real RECEPTION (v.4).  Not only do we see ourselves as we are, but we see Jesus as He is—the kind and loving Savior sent by God.  A drowning man is desperate for someone to save him—and when we know we are sinking deep in sin, then we are eager to extend a hand of faith to Jesus whose nail-scarred hand reaches down to us!  John tell us that to receive Jesus is to be really saved (John 1:12-13).

Repentance and reception leads to real REGENERATION (v.5-6).  Did you notice in the previous reference in John’s Gospel that it is set in context of the new birth?  Paul echoes that here.  Our first generation is physical—the result of the flesh—and accordingly we are sinners by nature and this is reinforced by deliberate choice.  The regeneration is spiritual—the renewal of the Spirit—and we become saints by virtue of our new nature and that reinforced by godly conduct.  It isn’t that we sinners, “clean up our act,” rather that God washes us—from the inside out!  God gives grace to persevere if it is real salvation.  We stay true to Him—and if we stray, He will chasten us—but, should we walk away forever, we only show we were never regenerate (see 1 John 2:19).

This repentance from sin, reception of the Savior, and regeneration in the Spirit is our response to real REDEMPTION (v.7).  I do not want you to miss the point—our righteous actions are the fruit of real salvation, and not the root of it!  Even the faith to believe is a gift from God.  It is all of grace that we are redeemed.  Christ did for us what we could never do for ourselves!  Becoming a child of God, grants us an inheritance in heaven from our Father God.  This is the real hope we have of eternal life with Him.

Thursday, April 23, 2015


I sought the LORD, and He heard me,
And delivered me from all my fears.  (Psalm 34:4)

Fear and faith are forever foes; they cannot coexist.  God’s children are to live by faith, directed by God.  Many, however, are living in fear, driven by dread.  David was at one of the most critical junctures of his young life.  King Saul was hot on his heels.  David panicked and behaved in a manner unworthy of a child of God.  Rather than trusting the Lord, he sought refuge in the world.  He went to a pagan king for help.  When the Philistines recognized it was their old nemesis David, they began to threaten David.  The Bible tells us David acted like a lunatic, drooling and scratching at the door like a dog—so they drove him away with scorn.  The young soldier learned a hard lesson.  His deliverance was not found in adopting worldly wisdom, but in hearing and heeding God.

We do this BY WHAT WE SPEAK.  We are to speak words of PRAISE  (v.1-3; 11-13).  Words are powerful—to help or to hurt.  It seems a strange time to be praising God.  If David allowed his mood and circumstances to dictate his speech, his mouth would be filled with negativism.  He had just made a fool of himself; peril hunted him like hounds tracking their prey.  Despite this, he chose by an act of the will, to bless the Lord.  In so doing, he would build the faith of those around him.  His men needed confidence—underpinned or undermined by what he said.  Everyday, by what we say we are fortifying faith or fueling fear.  The old need to teach the young the power of the tongue to help bring unleash the vitality of faith or the venom of fear by what we say.

Freedom from fear comes BY WHAT WE SEEK.  We are to seek the proper PRIORITY (v.4-10; 14).  Are we worried about our family?  Are we concerned about the economy?  Are we fearful of all the evil things that haunt our future?  Jesus addressed that.  He said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”  (Matt.6:33)  David made seeking God his priority.  If we fear God, we need fear nothing else.  David’s face was transformed from a shameful expression of irrational fear to a radiant one reflecting the glory of God.  It radiates from the countenance of one who has spent time with the Lord.  If we will but get a taste of whom God truly is, our senses will be overwhelmed so that we would never return back to eating the hog slop of the world.  We need to loathe that which God despises and love that which God delights in.

Then, we are delivered from fear BY WHAT WE SECURE.  We will secure PRESERVATION (v.15-22).   There is the God who remembers us (v.15-16).  Quite a contrast isn’t it—those that God’s face is set against and His holy fire burns to nothing, and those God remembers—His eyes and ears open to them?  There is also the God who rescues us (v.17-18).  Maybe, like David, we have failed God—but you can have a broken heart of repentance and experience His rescue.  There is the God who redeems us (v.19-22). We are not exempt from trouble, but can endure the trouble.  Verse 20 promises preservation and resurrection.  This quote is messianic (see John 19:33-36).  If the last enemy—old Death—has been overcome (and he has in Christ’s work on that bloody cross and empty tomb), then what have I to dread, what have I to fear—I’m leaning on the everlasting arms!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015



‘If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments, and perform them… then I will…look on you favorably and make you fruitful, multiply you and confirm My covenant with you.’  (Leviticus 26:3, 4a, 13)

Traffic laws are a nuisance.  I despise them.  You are in a hurry, but stop signs and red lights make you wait.  I do not understand why you can’t drive as fast as your car will go. We could be so much more productive with our time than just sitting in a car poking along.  I wonder why if you are stuck in traffic behind two semis doing the speed limit, why not cut across the median into the other lane if traffic is thinner.  The most irritating thing is the cops, who are just waiting for you to whiz by, so they can stop you—a needless delay and a hefty fine.  Imagine how horrible the carnage would be, if every driver did whatever they wanted.  The laws are for our benefit.  That is true of God’s laws as well.

There is the reward of PROVISION (Lev.26:4-5, 9-10).  God tells them He will bless them with His bounty, if they will walk in His ways.  If Israel served God, God would open up the windows of heaven and send the right amount of sun and showers.  America has enjoyed such bounty.  We were founded on the principles of God’s laws and have been a light to the nations for sharing the Gospel.  Now, we are turning from the truth—and that is a fearful thing.  It has been rightly said that, “America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”  God’s willingness to bless us is only limited by our willingness to obey Him. 

There is the reward of PEACE (v.5c-6).  Peace with God is unconditionally extended through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ (Rom.5:1).  To know the peace of God, however, demands our devotion to Him (Phil.4:6-9).  If I am at war with the will of God, I cannot know peace.  I must unconditionally surrender.  I must cease my striving against His plans and purpose for me.  We live in a land that is increasingly marked by strife.  We are divided along major fault lines of race, politics, age, gender, economics—and many, many more.  An earthquake of social upheaval is looming that threatens to break us apart.  Unless we are, “under God,” we will not be, “indivisible.”

There is the reward of POWER (v.7-8, 13).  God promises power for those who obey.  We can put our enemies to flight and live in victory.  God wants His people to walk in victory over our foes: the world, the flesh and the devil.  Yet, so many Christians are living in defeat, made impotent by disobedience.  In the past, America has risen to overcome every challenge to our existence that has come from other shores.  We had become the world’s super power, but that power seems to be fading fast—corresponding to our moral freefall.

There is the reward of PRESENCE (v.11-12).  This is the best promise!  If we have God’s presence with us, then we can be sure of the other rewards.  A Christian cannot lose God’s presence, but we can lose the manifestation of it.  You cannot walk with God unless you are going the same direction!  God wants us to be His special people—a beacon to the world!  May we not only declare the rewards of obedience, but demonstrate them today!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


I acknowledged my sin to You,
And my iniquity I have not hidden.
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,”
And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah  (Psalm 32:5)

I know that everyone is reachable because I was once that prodigal, so far from God, but the tough love of a Christian father and the tenacious prayers of a godly mother reached me.  When others might have given up and it seemed I was a hopeless case, God in His grace responded to my parents and I was delivered from hell fire.  How can we reach difficult family members? 

PROOF MUST BE PRESENTED (v.1-2). David was giving eyewitness testimony of his experience of forgiveness.  He was a frail man, yet a forgiven man.  His life had been changed by the power of God and it was real.  We must be the living proof that Jesus saves and transforms us by grace, if we are to make an impact on our family.  Only those in whom Christ has made a difference will be able to make a difference.

PAIN MUST BE PERMITTED (v.3-5).  David’s turning to God was a direct result of the pain he experienced.  The discipline of God fell on him and that brought him to his knees.  If we want to reach the tough cases in our family, we must be willing to let them experience pain.  I know a parent’s temptation is to try to spare our kids of all pain.  When they make wrong choices, we tend to intervene and remove the consequences.  Some make it a habit of bailing their kids out—and they never learn.  Is there anything as painful as to be cast into the lake of fire—to suffer eternal separation from God?  Then, we must pray, “God whatever it takes!”

PRAYER MUST BE PRACTICED (v.6).  David reminds us of the power of prayer to rescue those who are in danger of being swept away by the floods of ungodliness.  I don’t know of a force any greater than the faithful, fervent prayers of a mother or father.  A husband may refuse to heed our witness, but he cannot silence your prayers.  You may not have heard from your son in a long time—you’re not even sure where he is—but your prayers can be like a guided missile seeking their target.  God knows where that granddaughter is and how to reach her. 

PATIENCE MUST BE PRESERVED (v.7).  David saw God as His hiding place—that when doubts and fears assailed him, the Lord would enable him to endure.  You will face the same struggle when trying to reach a resistant parent or unbelieving spouse or rebellious child or wandering grandchild. You will be tempted to give up, to give in, or to give out.  Patience must be preserved.  David was able to sing of the deliverance he was sure would come.

PRECEPTS MUST BE PROCLAIMED (v.8-9).  Our lifestyle is paramount to reaching our lost family members.  There is a time to be silent and to let our actions speak and there also may be a time when a verbal witness is called for.  We need to talk to them about the things of God.  Most people are saved, not through the influence of a preacher, but a parent.

PROMISES MUST BE POSSESSED (v.10-11). The promise is that, “whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  None are unreachable.  This is the promise of God.

Monday, April 20, 2015


But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come….  (2 Timothy 3:1)

Our world is hurtling with ever-increasing speed toward judgment.  When people reject the love of God, refuse the Son of God, and resist the Spirit of God, then we have come to the perilous times of which Paul warned.  God declared, “My Spirit shall not always strive with man.”  (Gen.6:3)  Are we on the verge of another cataclysm?

We face THE CERTAINTY OF PERILOUS TIMES (v.1).  The Apostle assures us that dangerous, difficult, and deadly times will come.  We need to wake up!  If these are the last of the last days, with the Lord’s return at hand, He should not find us sleeping.  Alarm bells are going off.  We not only need to wake up—we need to get up!  We cannot afford to hit the snooze button.  There are souls to rescue; there are souls to save!

We find THE CHARACTER OF PERILOUS TIMES (v.2-5).  This sounds like we are reading today’s newspaper. “For  men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money”—being absorbed with egotism and consumed with materialism.  The next trio of words, “boasters, proud, blasphemers,” convey a spirit of self-sufficiency, as people arrogantly assert their autonomy against the Lord God.  This issues in disrespect for all authority as humanity is “disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers….”  At the top of the list is rebellion against parental authority.  If this is not respected, then no other authority will be.  For such, God is either ignored or scorned.  This leads them to be, “without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty,” for apart from God there are no moral absolutes.  The creed becomes, “If it feels good, do it!”  Sinners of the last days are marked as, “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!”  They may still have a veneer of religion, but absent saving grace.  Idolatry and immorality are pervasive in these perilous times.

We note THE COURSE OF PERILOUS TIMES (v.6-8).  Inevitably, it leads to the destruction of the home (v.6).  The family is the basic building block of society—and if it crumbles, civilization ceases to be civilized.  Thus, Satan infiltrates the home, establishes a beachhead, and attacks relentlessly.  This is why we have an epidemic of people living together without marriage, homosexuality, rampant divorce, abortion and child abuse—as the Devil is intent on destroying family life.  There is also the deranging of the mind (v.7).  Humanity has made great progress educationally, but regressed ethically!  Furthermore, there is the defiling of the church (v.8).  The men mentioned here were satanic counterfeits who opposed Moses—miracle workers whose power deceived the masses—and we have them today.  Many in the church are following these “Pied Pipers.”

There is, however, THE CLIMAX OF PERILOUS TIMES (v.9).  God has drawn a line in the sands of time.  Evil will proceed so far, but no further.  The inevitable judgment is fixed and final.  The verdict will be pronounced and sentence imposed, with no other appeal to be heard.  In times like these, you need a Savior—for the time will come that He will no longer extend compassion, but exclaim condemnation!  Hear His voice today!

Sunday, April 19, 2015


You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.  (2 Timothy 2:3)

The Christian life is not a playground—it is a battleground.  This is not a game we are playing, but a war we are prosecuting.  Although it is a spiritual battle, it is no less deadly than if real bullets were flying and bombs were falling.  Paul, the old battle-scarred general, has come to the end of his commission.  Soon he will say, "I have fought a good fight."  For now, he is challenging young Timothy to take up the struggle against evil.

He first indicates the preparation for the battle that is necessary (2 Tim.2:1-3).  Boot camp is a necessary part of a soldier's preparation.  It would be foolish and certain death to go to war without going through basic training.  Likewise, this is true in the theater of spiritual struggle.  There is the need for readiness.  The Christian soldier who stands strong in the grace of Jesus is ready for anything the Enemy of our souls may throw at us.  He is equipped to face the foe.  God's grace is His supernatural source of strength.  In our preparation for battle, there is the need for readiness, but there is also the need for recruits.  An army always needs fresh recruits.  Paul had recruited Timothy, and now Timothy is to recruit other faithful men, who will do the same.  God is still looking for a few good men.  Enlistment lines are open.  Will you sign up today?  Furthermore, there is the need for rigor.  Rigor means inflexibility and strictness.  Many battles were won throughout the course of history because a few valiant soldiers stood rigidly against the assault of the enemy. 

Once that preparation is made, it is time for the prosecution of the battle (2 Tim.2:4-5).  This is a call for concentration.  The good soldier cannot afford to be entangled and tripped up by the world system.  In those days of hand-to-hand combat, to lose one's concentration for even a moment meant certain death.  Thus, the Christian soldier cannot allow himself to be distracted from Christ by the appeal of the world.  To engage the enemy in battle requires not only concentration, but also consecration.  An army that fights half-heartedly and is not committed to a cause is doomed to defeat. 

I conclude by pointing out the prize of the battle (2 Tim.2:5-7).  Medals of honor are pinned on those who have distinguished themselves in combat.  Not only do earthly governments recognize such heroism, but also the Kingdom of heaven acknowledges those Christian soldiers who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in spiritual warfare.  Are you just trying to survive the battle, or do you want to excel in the battle?  If you will be faithful to your calling to be a Christian soldier, you will experience rest.  When we get to heaven, we will rest from our labors.  The war will be over and our wounds will be bathed and healed.  The weariness of warfare will drop from us, and the burden of daily struggle will vanish away.  Not only is there promise of rest for the faithful soldier, but the promise of reward as well.  The rewards are going to be distributed one day at the judgment seat of Christ.  How thrilling it will be to hear Jesus commend us for loyalty to His cause!  We will cast our crowns at Jesus’ feet.  Don't you want to be able to join in?  Enlist today!  “Onward, Christian soldier!”

Saturday, April 18, 2015


to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. (2 Timothy 1:11)

Every time you turn the TV on, it seems there is another award show.  You have the Oscars, the Emmies, and the Grammies.  Then there are the Golden globe and People's Choice Awards.  We are subjected to hours of celebrities stroking one another's egos. 

The world has its standard of greatness.  When we speak of Babe Ruth, we say he was a great baseball player.  MacArthur was a great general.  Edison was a great inventor.  Our world measures greatness in terms of fame, popularity and achievement.  But God's standard is different.  When the disciples of Christ disputed about who would be the greatest in the kingdom of God, Jesus taught, "He that is greatest is servant of all."  Paul echoes that truth in this text.

In verse nine, Paul writes of the calling of the Christian servant.  The call is commenced in the purpose of Jehovah.  Before there was the problem of sin, God had already decreed the provision for sinnersChrist, the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.  So salvation is not based on our performance and goodness, but on God's purpose and grace.  Consider further that the call is communicated in the person of Jesus.  God's purpose in eternity was revealed in history when the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. Never was the love of God more vividly communicated than at Calvary.  Through Christ's death and resurrection we can live as Christ's servants.

Paul not only points out the calling of the Christian servant, but he indicates the commitment of the Christian servant in verse twelve.  Paul is writing of his own commitment to serving God.  It is one thing to hear God's call to service and quite another to heed it by obedience.  Yet this is a divine duty.  Paul had the sense that he was a man under authority.  He recognized that he held a sacred stewardship.  That is true of all God's children.  Our commitment to the service of Christ is a divine duty.  It is also to be a daily demonstration.  Nowhere in the Bible do we read about taking a vacation from God's service.  There is no retirement plan for the Christian until we get to heaven.

We have seen then, the calling of the Christian servant, and the commitment of the Christian servant.  Let us not leave this text, however, before we consider the consolation of the Christian servant.  Yes, the price we pay to serve Jesus may be high, but the consolation we have is worth it all.  God had promised to reward His faithful servants.  There is a present reward (v.8b).  Paul testified how he had experienced God's power in the midst of his afflictions.  In the gravest extreme of human poverty, one can receive the greatest exhibition of heavenly power.  This is what the fellowship of Christ's sufferings can mean to us.  Our consolation in Christ, however, is not just in a present reward, but in a promised reward (v.12).  The day Paul was speaking about was that awesome Day of Judgment when believers appear before the judgment seat of Christ and give an account for the service that we have rendered to Him.  Paul had given himself to laying up treasures in heaven and he believed Christ was keeping his investment secure.

Friday, April 17, 2015


Though an army may encamp against me,
My heart shall not fear….  (Psalm 27:3a)

We can look at the evil conditions about us—whine and surrender—or we can suck it up, set our chin, dig in our heels and look to heaven for victory!  From his first fight, when David faced a ten-foot giant with only a slingshot—throughout many battlefield engagements—the veteran warrior was a winner, not a whiner.  What battles are you facing today?  Have you suffered too many spiritual setbacks?  Are you beaten down—a spiritual casualty?  David tells us how to live in victory.

There is VICTORY’S CONFIDENCE (v.1-3).  We hear the confidence in David’s voice—faith that casts out fear.  His confidence was in the power of God.  He knew that if God is for us none can stand against us.  That confidence expressed so clearly is a compelling power coming from a leader.  Fear is contagious also.  Leaders make a choice whether to inspire faith in God’s army or fear—and that will make a big difference.  John wrote, “This is the victory that overcomes the world—even our faith.”  (1 Jn.5:4b)

Next, note VICTORY’S COMMUNION (v.4-5).  David’s confidence was rooted in his communion with God.  He met with his Commander and received orders from heaven’s headquarters!  A winning strategy was communicated to him.  This is indispensable.  When the bulk of our time is spent listening to the world rather than listening to the Word, it is no wonder our minds are enslaved with fear.  It is time spent with God that fortifies our faith!  “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.”  (Rom.10:17)

Then we have VICTORY’S CELEBRATION (v.6).  Here is an expression of confidence—so sure of victory that David is already planning a celebration.  In modern sports terms—the champagne is on ice in the locker room!  Too many church services are like a funeral rather than a festival.  We drag in here on Sunday mornings and nurse our wounds.  Looking into the faces of some, it seems that they have accepted defeat.  Haven’t you read the end of the story?  We win—and heaven will be a great celebration of victory!

Also, we have VICTORY’S CRY  (v.7-10)  Where can we go, but to the Lord?  David knew the victory would be won through prayer.  He cries out to God for help.  My hope for change in America doesn’t rest in the White House but higher up—to the One who sits on the White Throne!  2 Chronicles 7:14 is the winning strategy God gave us—humble yourselves and pray and seek His face!

Observe also VICTORY’S COURSE (v.11-13).  Winning armies require good training.  Our field manual is the Bible.  God has given us spiritual armor and our weapon is truth.  The Great Commission is our marching orders.  We win the battle one heart at a time. 

Finally, there is VICTORY’S COURAGE (v.14)  David knew how to build the morale of his troops.  That is my mission today.  Good leaders have an unconquerable spirit that puts them in front as they charge the hill.   Now, men and women, “CHARGE!”

Thursday, April 16, 2015


Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.  (1 Timothy 5:17)

Freedom is not the right to do anything you want, but the liberty to do all that you ought.  It is a liberating thing to get in my car and go where I want, but I must restrain how fast I go by the speed limit signs.  Similarly, in ministry there needs to be liberty for the pastor and associates—“the elders”—as they are called here to pursue their ministries without shackles that some congregations place on them.  Those liberties, however, involve responsibilities.  A train has great freedom of movement, so long as it is on its tracks, but let it derail and its progress has halted.  God has laid down some tracks for the minister and the members to move forward in His mission.  Paul warns us not to get off the rails!

Ministry needs liberty in substance (v.17-18).  The church does not pay her staff a salary for the work they do—or they could not afford it!  The pastor preaches the unsearchable riches of Christ and deals with immortal souls, where the issues are heaven and hell!  His reward will be in heaven, because the members simply could not pay him enough.  The man of God is not a hireling.  The burden of the Lord is thrust upon him and he will do his assignment whether anyone pays him a penny.  He has not simply taken this as an occupation among several options because he has chosen this field—no, God has chosen him.  So why does the pastor get a paycheck?  It frees him to pursue his work without needless concern for his family’s needs.  The shackles of debt and anxiety do not hinder him.  In the case of the one who leads the flock and feeds them faithfully and fruitfully, they are to be given a larger compensation—this inspires them to work even harder.

Ministry needs liberty from slander (v.19-22).  Some of the most grievous wounds a pastor ever suffers are from sharp tongues.  If a minister has to worry that he will be assaulted by slander, with no defense, it has the potential to enslave him to his critics.  Judas Iscariot was among the twelve, and there are some akin to him, that Satan strategically places in churches today.  This does not mean the pastor need not worry about morality, or has absolute authority over the congregation.  If he sins, he is to be confronted, but there is a Biblical process established here.

Ministry needs liberty from sickness (v.23-25).  Timothy was a “teetotaler,” and that is a good thing—normally.  In his case, however, a contaminated water supply was causing the shackles of sickness to hold back his ministry.  Paul tells him a small amount of alcohol can have a purifying effect on the water—so he is free to do that.  The concerns about alcohol were well-founded, however—and it is why priests and kings were forbidden from it while discharging their spiritual leadership (Lev.10:9-11; Prov.31:4-5).  Intoxication leads to immorality (v.24-25).  In our time, there is little need—most ministers have access to pure drinking water.  The principle is important.  If a pastor is not healthy, he will be hindered, and the church needs to insist he care for his body so he can care for their souls.  Let us liberate the ministry and God will bless that church.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


This past Sunday morning, we had a tremendous outpouring of people sharing what they were asking God to do in their hearts and in our church in seeking revival.  The following are a list of some of those concerns.  There were many more--this is just what we have been able to process, but we have been praying for them all.   We wanted to share these so you could join us in prayer.



·         Boost our faith in God’s promises so we can convey our faith to others

·         Our revival evidenced by love and passion for Christ that is visible outside the church

·         Revival in our hearts

·         Hearts to be set on fire and abandon apathy

·         Do not be content with the status quo

·         A miracle that will change the world and lead all mankind to know the true loving God

·         Lost souls

·         Acknowledge Jesus is Lord

·         Make our church grow spiritually

·         That time will not matter, only hearing the word of God

·         Commitment of members to study Bible

·         Broken fellowship restored between members

·         Holy Spirit fill church and people

·         Stop worrying about change and do what’s best to reach our community,

·         Try to reach the unchurched and unsaved

·         Support for revival

·         Many people will be saved and healed

·         For us to become the light we should be
·         To bring more scripture and accountability
·         Removal of X-boxes
·         Bring Bible and scripture back to them
·         To provide our community with loving youth and future God loving leaders
·         Demons cast out of all our youth
·         Youth and young adults grow and have a passion to do God’s work
·         That youth ministry would be stronger
·         Youth program to be revived
·         Youth—numbers down
·         More teens to attend revival
·         An end of apathy
·         Passion for Christ and His people
·         Zeal for the lost
·         Spiritual apathy
·         Stop going through the motions of worshiping our Lord
·         Wake up and be about meaningful work
·         To touch the hearts and lives of our people
·         I don’t want to go through the pain of a dying church
·         All lost souls
·         Renewal for the church
·         Focus for other’s salvation, our growth and Christian maturity
·         Make our lives a sacrifice
·         Baptize 500 people in the next 5 years
·         Return of joy, peace and fervor
·         Encourage each other to greater love of God
·         Outpouring of the Hold Spirit
·         Workers act with boldness
·         Families to come together in love
·         Lost to know Christ
·         Lots of lost people to receive salvation
·         More people to come to Christ
·         Salvation for the lost
·         Not to be complacent
·         Reach out to the lost
·         Think more of others than ourselves
·         A revival in all our members
·         Evaluate use of churches time and resources to ensure we are drawing people to Christ
·         Lead men to lead revival in their own homes
·         Pray there is no room at the altar
·         Be a better leader
·         For my heart to be one of compassion and love
·         Soften my heart to draw others to the Lord
·         Thorn in the flesh that needs to be removed
·         Make God a priority in my life also people a higher priority
·         Make me a bold witness
·         Want to see my family and friends  be revived so they will get back in church and serve the Lord
·         Renewed love for Jesus
·         Renewal of the spirit
·         Joy in Christ
·         Draw closer to our Savior
·         Revival in me

·         Hold me accountable

·         Clear the nonsense from my life and church

·         Be totally committed

·         Preparation of my soul

·         Cleansing through prayer and the Word

·         Strength and boldness

·         Eliminate busyness and stress

·         Speak to the hearts of my family

·         Desire personal relationship w/ God

·         I want to grow and be a better husband, father and servant for God

·         Focus on training our children in such a broken world

·         Seek God’s will in raising our children

·         Be filled with grace instead of judgement

·         Listen to the Lord’s voice

·         Use me to do your will and be better witness

·         Grown in my relationship with Christ

·         Opportunities to serve are revealed to me

·         Draw closer to God and make Him a priority

·         Hold Spirit show me what to do

·         Revival starts with me, commit to a closer daily walk w/ God

·         Care and pray; go and do

·         Holy Spirit to move in my heart

·         My priorities to be in line with Jesus




·         Salvation for my husband

·         Family, parents, kids

·         That my husband and son would attend revival

·         My husband

·         Salvation for the lost in my family