Monday, August 31, 2015


Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’?  Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!  (John 4:35)

I recall the first time my father put me on a bicycle.  “I can’t do it!” I screamed.  He continued to work with me, I fell several times, but at last I learned to ride.  My father knew the ability was in me if I would develop it.  When we are confronted with the responsibility of sharing our faith, we may become ashen white, and our knees begin to knock.  We think, “I can’t do it!”  Yet, we have the Holy Spirit within us to enable us—if we are willing to learn.  Jesus sets the standard for soul-winning.  In the fourth chapter of John’s Gospel, we can see how it is done.

Jesus had a passion for His mission.  He was ever about doing His Father’s business of making disciples.  Christ felt compelled to take a trip to Samaria (v.1-4).  There was a thirsty soul there—waiting to drink of the Well of Salvation.  Jews didn’t do this, however, as racial and religious prejudice were barriers to interchange with the Samaritans.  Jesus was not going to yield to such sinful thinking.  He was into building bridges rather than barricades.  There are really only two kinds of people—those who are saved and those who need to be—and God has given His children the task of leading the lost to eternal life.

It was a long walk to Samaria.  Jesus pressed on, for He had an appointment to keep (v.5-7).  God gives us these divine appointments, if we are attentive.  He brings us repeatedly into the intersection of testimony and opportunity.  Today we may find ourselves in apparently random encounters with many different folks.  These are not coincidental, but providential, if we will be conscious of our mission, and listen for the Spirit’s prompting to present the Gospel.  Jesus saw in the woman who came to Jacob’s Well to draw water, a deeper spiritual thirst in her soul.  People like this are everywhere.  We see them every day.  Do we look beyond the surface, however, and listen to the longing of their heart?

The Supreme Soul-winner engages her in conversation (v.10-14).  His starts where she is and naturally turns the conversation to her spiritual need.  There is an art to doing this, and we can learn how.  Once the conversation turns to the Gospel, we must work to prevent it from being side-tracked.  The woman, perhaps growing uncomfortable with the direction the discussion was taking, does what sinners often do, brings up religion and starts raising objections (v.15-20).  She knew that her repeated marital failures and her current status of living with a man outside of marriage were wrong.  Her conscience was convicted and she didn’t want to face it, so she brings up “denominational differences,” so to speak.

Jesus redirects the dialogue back to the central matter—belief in Him that would bring her salvation (v.21-27).  One of the reasons we are often fearful of sharing our faith is the concern that others will raise all kinds of theological questions that we cannot answer.  While we should be prepared to have these discussions, our real purpose is to bring people to the core issue—“What are you going to do with Jesus?  Will you believe in Him?”  The woman was transformed and becomes a soul-winner herself (v.28-42)!  The result was a great harvest of souls.

Saturday, August 29, 2015


Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.   (1 Corinthians 4:1)

When the word stewardship is mentioned, most people (Baptists anyway) start grabbing for their wallet, expecting a plea for more money. Without a doubt, we are stewards of our treasure, but Paul is not speaking of that here—he is talking about being a steward of the truth.  Those who are ministers of the Gospel are called to that sacred stewardship, and those who are in the membership of the church are to hold the preachers accountable to being faithful.  Faithfulness is the required attribute that must be found in those who proclaim God’s Word—faithful to preserve the integrity of the message in sound doctrine and faithful to proclaim the authority of the message in Scriptural declaration (1 Cor.4:2-3).

All followers of Christ are called to serve the Lord in some capacity.  The service of the man behind the sacred desk is the ministry of the Word.  The word servant is an interesting one.  It is a most humble term in the original language—“an under-rower”—the slaves who rowed in the bottom of a Roman galley.  It was a brutal assignment, and most did not survive long.  How is it that preachers think to promote themselves as celebrities, and demand perks and privileges?  Where do we think we are exalted to lord it over the church?  Christ is Lord of His church!  We are in the bowels of the ship of Zion, toiling for our Lord!

The preacher is a steward of mysteries—truths once hidden as buried treasure, locked away in the heart and mind of God from eternity—now unearthed in time by the Spirit’s spade.  That treasure of truth is from God.  These mysteries are not ours to tinker with and tailor to suit the self-centered hearts of sinful man!  It is God’s Word and we must hold it in reverence, bow to it in obedience, and preach it with confidence!  One day, all those who stand with a Bible in hand, will be summoned before Christ and judged according to their degree of faithfulness in this stewardship.

Paul knew what it was to be judged by men—and doubtless there were those who esteemed him very highly—and thus the temptation for devilish pride would be present.  Then, there were those who judged him most harshly—and thus the temptation for discouragement to arise.  Wisely, he refuses to listen to either.  The Apostle would not invest the time in trying to determine the accuracy of men’s opinions.  He would leave it in the hands of God (1 Cor.4:4).  So must we.  There are likely those sermons that men despise and that we think a disaster which we will discover on Judgment Day were honored by the Lord Jesus, and used in a powerful way beyond our wildest imagination.  Then, we will find that some of the sermons which received human applause will be judged as nothing, since they led to our glorying in the flesh.

May those who sit in the congregation grading the sermon as critics might review a movie, remember that they do not get the final word.  Here is Paul’s encouraging word for the pastor:

Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts.  Then each one’s praise will come from God.  (1 Cor.4:5)


And David stayed in strongholds in the wilderness, and remained in the mountains in the Wilderness of Ziph. Saul sought him every day, but God did not deliver him into his hand.  (1 Samuel 23:14)

Do you recall, “The Fugitive”?  It was a successful TV show, later made into a movie.  In the story, Dr. Richard Kimble is falsely convicted for the murder of his wife.  Kimble escapes, but is relentlessly pursued by Lt. Gerard.  The fugitive is an innocent man, never able to relax, and always on the run.  That was the real story of David.  Though guilty of no crime, he was chased continually by King Saul, who meant to kill him.

In chapter 21 of 1 Samuel, we find David desperate.  He constantly is looking over his shoulder, without a minute’s peace.  The fear of man had supplanted the fear of God—and, thus, David made poor decisions.  He told a lie in order to gain Goliath’s sword and gather provisions.  This would result in the death of the priests.  Beyond this, David actually goes into enemy territory—looking to the world for protection, rather than trusting in God to be his Refuge.  One is reminded of Peter who did much the same thing when he denied Jesus.  It is understandable from a human standpoint, but inexcusable from heaven’s perspective.  “The fear of man brings a snare….”  (Prov.29:25a)  The worst of it is that David then acted like a lunatic before the Philistines in order to save his skin, bringing reproach to himself, and to his God.

Things get worse, as the evil Doeg (chapter 22) reports to Saul that Ahimelech and the other priests have aided David.  The paranoid king has them executed by the vicious dog of a man, Doeg.  Eighty five innocent servants of God are slaughtered.  The failure of our faith—and particularly that of a leader may have far-reaching implications—consequences we do not anticipate when we yield to fear.  The good news is that David would learn.  He would be driven back to lean on the Lord.  These lessons would be written indelibly by experience on his soul.  The fugitive would eventually be vindicated.  The fire David went through would refine his character and God would hammer him on the anvil of trouble into a king.

David was a man after God’s own heart—yet, still a MAN—with all the frailties of the flesh that comes with that.  There never comes a time when we can trust our own strength.  We are also reminded that failure need not be final—we can grow through it, rise above it, as we are humbled by it.  That very brokenness brings us to God and into grace.  “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”  (James 4:6)

Friday, August 28, 2015


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)

Jesus is the Godman—not half God and half man, but fully God and fully man—just as much man as if He were not God and just as much God as if He were not man.  He is the Only Begotten Son, Jesus the One and Only.  Matthew begins with His genealogy and stresses His royalty as the Son of David; Mark begins with His ministry and underscores His activity as the Servant of Jehovah; Luke begins with His nativity and emphasizes His humanity as the Son of Man.  John takes us back into eternity and stresses His deity as the Son of God.  John has three expressions He uses repeatedly in His writings: life, light and love.  Each one of these are characteristic of the Son of God. 

So we see Christ’s DIVINE LIFE.  In John 1:14, the aged Apostle John declares, “We beheld His glory….”  Christ Himself said, “I am the resurrection and the life.”  (11:25a)  In chapters 1-12 of John’s Gospel, we find this emphasis.  When the beginning began, Christ already was the Eternal Son—without beginning or ending.  John calls Him, “The Word.”  Words are how we communicate.  When God was ready to speak fully and finally to the world, He communicated through the living Word, Jesus—the Word made flesh.  Jesus not only made the claim, He manifested the credentials.  Seven “signs,” are featured in this book.  John didn’t claim to record all His miracles, but seven were selected and are called signs that demonstrate His Deity.

In John’s Gospel we also witness Christ’s DIVINE LIGHT.  John told us that “we beheld His glory….” Glory is the radiance of God—His Divine light outshining.  He said, “I am the light of the world.”  (9:5)  There are many mysteries of the Kingdom of God—hidden truths that Jesus came to reveal as the light of His teaching shone upon the disciples and He does in chapters 13-17.  When Jesus wanted to teach His disciples the essence of service, He didn’t just say it, He showed it, as He took a towel, girded Himself, and washed the disciple’s feet.  When they left the upper room He taught them about abiding in His life and love as a branch abides in the vine and bears fruit.  There are lessons about the Holy Spirit and a holy life.  He teaches them about the importance of prayer and unity as God’s children. 

John’s Gospel culminates in chapters 18-21 with Christ’s DIVINE LOVE.  John said that His glory was “that of the only begotten of the Father….”  To see Him was to see the Father.  God is love and therefore Christ is love incarnate.  He stated, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”  (15:13)  It was love that brought Him from eternity to earth on a mission to save sinners.  We see Him nailed to a cross to pay the price for our sins.  But, Eternal Love cannot be sealed in a tomb!  Christ in His resurrection glory appears to Mary, to ten of His disciples, and then to Thomas who had his doubts.  Those doubts were overcome!  Later, Jesus eats with the eleven and restores Simon Peter who had denied Him.  As Jesus was sent to seek the lost lambs, so He sends His disciples today on a mission of love.

Thursday, August 27, 2015


Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.  (1 Corinthians 1:10)

As I type these words I am connected to the internet.  That connection is important if I am to communicate with you.  When this devotional is completed, I will send it out to a potential worldwide audience.  There are times the connection is down and then the communication is disrupted.  That is not only a technological truth, it is a theological one, as witnessed in the first chapter of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church. 

The church was a basket-case—as a host of problems plagued them.  Their carnality was showing.  Living in a corrupt environment, they were being contaminated by it.  When they were meant to impact the city, the culture was influencing them instead.  We think that our times are tough to try to live for God—when has it ever been easy?  This first century message is on target for a twenty-first century church.

Of all the problems that plagued the Corinthian Christians, the one Paul confronts first is the breaking of their connection with each other.  One of Satan’s chief weapons is division, and he was utilizing it effectively in Corinth.  While the saints were not cooperating with each other in building up the church, they were cooperating with the devil in breaking up the fellowship!

The Apostle reminds them in verses one through seventeen that they are to be connected in fellowship.  They have been set apart for God—each one.  This is their common experience of an uncommon gift.  Their position in Christ is that of saints.  No matter the other ways that humans segment society—by color, class, gender, age, achievement, and the like—all the redeemed were one in their standing in Christ.  We are reminded that since we are saints, we ought to act like it!  Jesus said that the world would believe in Him when we demonstrated love and displayed unity with one another (John 17:21).  If our connection in fellowship is broken by strife, then the communication of our message is lost.

Not only are God’s people to be connected in fellowship, but in faith (v.18-31).  God’s children share a common faith in an uncommon Savior.  Everything focuses on the cross of Christ, which is the only hope of salvation.  We come by the Calvary Road to heaven, or we do not come at all.  It matters not how much we have in the bank or how little, whether we are young or old, male or female, black or white, educated or uneducated—the ground is level at the foot of the cross.  The world scoffs at the image of a Savior hanging in bloody agony on a tree.  How can a Jew being executed in such a shameful way enable sinners to be saved?  This is God’s way—and it is in the cross that we glory!  It should be evident that this message is one revealed from heaven, for it would never have been dreamed up by humans!  To the Jews it was a stumbling block and to the Gentles it was foolishness, but to all who are saved the old rugged cross, so despised by the world, is the power and wisdom of God for salvation.

Let us stand together in fellowship sharing our faith.  The world is watching—and so is God.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us….  (Hebrews 12:1)

I can’t recall for sure who said it, but an old preacher once declared, “Every time I stand up, other men stand up inside me.”  So true!  Many others have shaped my life and their legacy of faithfulness has been passed down to me—now I am trying to pass it on.  One of our members, Gene Williamson, gave me a framed piece of art called, “The Legacy,” which hangs behind my desk in my study.  It features a pastor standing in the pulpit, with his Bible open, while surrounding him are prophets and angels unseen…the cloud of witnesses surrounding and supporting him.  That’s what a legacy is all about, and it is why we celebrate Homecoming each year.

This year, as we look to the past and remember those who have gone before us—the light of their influence still lighting the way—we will hear from a number of those whose ministry has been significantly impacted by Pole Creek.  They served on staff, answered the call while here, went into denominational service, or in some fashion were shaped by the legacy of doctrinal fidelity and missionary zeal found here.

This is a time for the young to reconnect with our roots and be grateful for those who planted the tree so we could sit under its shade today.  It is a long shadow that is cast—99 years.  It is also a time for the old to recall the purpose for which we exist and look to influence the next generation, even as our forefathers did for us.

Join us, Sunday morning, September 13 for our ninety-ninth birthday!  Sunday School starts at the normal time—9:45—but, will be abbreviated.  Homecoming worship starts early at 10:45, followed by lunch.  Our theme is, “The Lord Reigns,” and we exist because He does, we have a message because He does, and we have a glorious future because He does!  Invite former members and friends to join us.  It is going to be a great day!


So Saul eyed David from that day forward.  (1 Samuel 18:9)

I read this quote today, “Imagine being so free from envy that you can rejoice in other people’s successes.”  (Erwin Lutzer)  How convicting!  You know pastors struggle with this.  The church down the road soars while theirs struggles and you have fertile soil for the weeds of envy to flourish.  Someone else makes more money, another family’s children receive the college scholarships, some other choir member is asked to sing a solo, and on and on it goes.  Saul was poisoned by envy of David.  It would prove deadly—ending in the king’s suicide and death of his son, Jonathan, in battle.  What a difference David might have made in Saul’s life had he leaned on David, rather than loathing him!

David’s success was the seed of envy’s weed (1 Sam.18:1-9).  After the victory over the Philistines, Saul was celebrated, but not with the fanfare that David the giant-slayer received.  It is interesting to note that Prince Jonathan overcame this temptation—he pulled those weeds—and became a loyal friend to David.  Jonathan would have to walk a tightrope of loyalty to his father and his friend, yet was able to do so.  We cannot avoid facing the temptation to envy, yet we can refuse to yield to it.  Martin Luther put it this way, “You cannot keep birds from flying over your head but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.”

Saul did not get the same accolades as David, but he had not accomplished the same feat.  Goliath had been challenging the armies of Israel and defying God for days when the shepherd boy showed up with a slingshot.  Why didn’t the King—who was the most physically qualified to battle a giant—represent the nation?    His faith toward God and faithfulness to God failed.  In his heart he knew, and that shame in his soul bred envy.  Saul’s life became a mission—not to succeed, but to survive—to retain his position at all costs.  Many ministries and ministers are stifled by that same strife—instead of bearing fruit for God’s glory, they are overrun by the weeds of envy.  What is in the garden of your heart?

Envy is called one of the seven deadly sins—along with pride, covetousness, lust, gluttony, anger, and sloth.  Thomas Aquinas, a thirteenth century theologian, taught that they were deadly not just for their own severity as sins, but that they opened the door for other evils.  Envy certainly opened the door for God’s departure from Saul’s soul, and the entrance of a demonic spirit to torment him (1 Sam.18:10-16).  The troubled king could find no peace.  Fear gripped him.  Paranoia plagued him.  Envy would bring strife between Saul and his daughter who married David, and the king and his son who befriended David.  This is the evil of envy.

Saul would never become what he might have been.  He instead became what he should not have been.  David was a man after God’s own heart.  That is a choice Saul might have made—that any of us can make—yet, he chose a heart to pursue and preserve worldly power and position.  God is no respecter of persons—we can have as much of God as we want.  Saul wanted something else.  He desired his own glory rather than the glory of God.  Jonathan did not succumb because he trusted a Sovereign God to place people as He saw fit.  Promotion comes from the Lord.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


How shall I console you?  To what shall I liken you, O daughter of Jerusalem?  What shall I compare with you, that I may comfort you, O virgin daughter of Zion?  For your ruin is spread wide as the sea; Who can heal you?  (Lamentations 2:13)

You have probably never met Monroe.  He was a nice old guy who attended a church I pastored years ago.  He washed his hands continually.  One might think he was a germaphobe.  Perhaps he was just cautious.  Disease is easily spread and some of those germs are lethal.  Scientists predict it is only a matter of time until we have a pandemic, as strains of viruses are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics.  Serious as that is, I am more concerned about a disease that affects the soul.  It is the sorrowful sickness of sin—highly contagious and extremely dangerous.  Jeremiah saw it spread through an entire nation with devastating effect.  The weeping prophet mourns the tragedy that could have been prevented. 

Jeremiah points first to THE SOURCE (Lam.1:2)   Yahweh was to be the exclusive recipient of Judah’s affections.  Yet, they had become spiritual adulterers, giving their hearts to idols.  To be guilty once of infidelity would be serious, yet their scandalous behavior was persistent and plural—note the word, “lovers.”  Are we guilty? 

The prophet goes on to describe THE SYMPTOMS (Lam.1:1-16).   When you are sick and go to the doctor, one of the first things he does is find out the symptoms.

         EMPTINESS (1:1).  A city once full of life was now a ghost town.  Do you recall a time when you were full of joy, faith, and the Spirit?  Now, there is emptiness.
         LONELINESS (1:2).  There was none to comfort them.  Sin puts us out of fellowship with God.  Maybe there was a time when you felt God so near, but now He seems a million light years away.
         RESTLESSNESS (1:3).  Augustine said, You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you."  Isaiah pictures the wicked as a restless sea.
         BITTERNESS (1:4).  The Word of God that used to taste so sweet, now has become bitter to swallow.  Such bitter believers have been pickled in the vinegar of disobedience.
         WEAKNESS (1:5-7).  Instead of being victorious over evil, they had been vanquished by it.  Sin short-circuits our spiritual power and we dwell in defeat. 

There is more, but time would fail us to examine all the symptoms listed here.  I think you get the idea.

Let us move on to THE SOLUTION (Lam.3:40-41).  What we need most is a cure!  The prescription is given by the Great Physician—repentance!  Healing comes when we turn back to the God we have turned our back upon!  The church corporately and the church member individually needs to seek the Lord (“let us” is twice used to convey this).  Let us—each one of us—conduct a spiritual examination with a view of taking our medicine—whatever God should diagnose.  Let us—every one of us together plead with God for mercy!  Mercy is available.  In the midst of a book about the punishment of unfaithfulness in God’s people, there is also the promise of faithfulness in God Himself (see 3:22-33).

Suppose there is a cure for what afflicts you, yet you refuse to take the medicine and you die.  What really killed you?  The disease?  More than the sickness, it was the stubborn refusal to take the medicine.  Here is a warning, lest we foolishly continue suffering sin’s sorrowful sickness!

Monday, August 24, 2015


“For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”  (1 Samuel 16:7b)

It is a fact that the better looking you are, the greater your chances of opportunity to be successful.  According to an article from Business Insider, “Studies have shown that attractive people are usually hired sooner, get promotions more quickly, and are paid more than their less-attractive coworkers.”  One has to deliver results, but the door is opened wider for those with appealing features of face and form.

That is not how God chooses the person He uses, however.  If that were true, then the first King of Israel would have been the greatest king, for Saul was Hollywood handsome.  Scripture tells us that the people were eager to select him as their ruler for he towered over them.  Sadly, his physical stature was not matched by his spiritual development—and with God that is what matters.  Saul was disqualified from service because of his sinfulness, while David was chosen as, “a man after God’s own heart,” (1 Sam.13:14).

God would speak to His messenger, Samuel, who in turn would set David aside for divine service.  God still does this. When He called me to preach, He did not speak to me in an audible voice, nor send an angel down with a word from heaven.  Rather, as I listened to His men faithfully proclaim His Word, my heart was opened to His call.  Are you listening?

Who would have thought that a shepherd boy would be a king?  Seven sons of Jesse were summoned, yet none were chosen.  In fact, when Samuel saw the eldest coming, he was impressed with his features and thought Eliab must be the one.  That would have been the same mistake which elected the current failed leader, Saul.  Here is the spiritual principle:

For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.  But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence.  (1 Cor.1:26-29)

I never cease to be amazed that God would call me to shepherd His flock—few would have seemed less qualified—but, when He chooses and uses one like me, then He receives all the glory.

The Spirit of God departed from Saul and rested on David.  David’s anointing with oil was an outward representation of an inward reality.  Spiritual work demands spiritual power.  The work of God cannot be accomplished by human ingenuity and ability—not natural talent, but supernatural strength is required.

Are you a person God can use?  Devote your heart fully to Him.  Wherever you are and whatever you do, seek to please Him and labor for the Lord.  Others may ignore you.  God knows where you are and He can get you where you need to be.  We do not have to promote ourselves.  A sovereign God selects us.  It is not our ability, but our availability that God is looking for—to anoint with His Spirit and appoint to His service.  The key question is, “Do I have a heart for God?”

Sunday, August 23, 2015


And all the army of the Chaldeans who were with the captain of the guard broke down all the walls of Jerusalem all around.  (Jeremiah 52:14)

The repeated warnings had been ignored.  The opportunity for repentance had passed.  Jerusalem’s sins had breached the dam of God’s patience, and now wrath will overflow. 

Zedekiah sat upon the throne—the last of the line of wicked kings.  He will preside over Jerusalem’s fall.  Like a summer storm, with clouds deepening, Babylon’s forces encircled Jerusalem.  Jewish resolve had withered away like their physical strength, as they were starving under the siege.  Then, a sudden the thunder clap, and the storm broke—Babylon’s armies breaching Jerusalem’s defenses.  Zedekiah attempted a getaway, but was apprehended.  His fate would be horrible—watching his sons executed before his eyes, and then having his eyes put out, so the final image burned in his mind was of his children’s gruesome death.

It did not have to be.  By this time there was no escape for Zedekiah, or Jerusalem, but previously God had provided them a way to avoid judgment—repentance!  They would not turn from their wickedness, however, and seek the Lord.  Jerusalem was burned—the walls broken into rubble.  The inhabitants were taken captive and the Temple spoiled of its treasure then destroyed.  Only some of the poor were left behind to care for Nebuchadnezzar’s fields.  For seventy years, the Jews will languish in exile. 

In the midst of the dark clouds of judgment, the sun beam of grace breaks through.  Another King who had been captured—Jehoiachin—would later be liberated from prison and cared for the rest of his days.  In wrath, God remembers mercy.

Can we as a nation think we will be the exception to the rule?  With the current trajectory we find our country on, the end of the line will be judgment.  One day will be our last day, and might it be this day?  Have the dark forces not already breached our spiritual defenses and carried away our sons and daughters as captives to their will?  If there is any hope, then we must quickly, fervently, and sincerely seek the Lord!  The clock is ticking.

Saturday, August 22, 2015



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.  (Romans 12:1)

Nicolas Zinzendorf gazed at the painting called “Ecce Homo” (“Behold the Man”).   He read the words “I have done this for you; what have you done for me?”  and committed his life to Christ and started a great missions movement.  Frances Havergal saw the same picture and wrote the words of this hymn:
“I gave my life for thee,
My precious blood I shed,
That thou might’st ransomed be,
And quickened from the dead;
I gave, I gave my life for thee,
What hast thou given for me?”

That is the point of Romans 12:1.  The sacrifice of Christ calls us to absolute surrender to the Savior. 
Consider first, THE REASONS FOR SURRENDER.  Although Paul might have spoken with the authority of an Apostle and demanded it, instead he stoops as a beggar and pleads for it.  He knew that love cannot be coerced.  It must be freely given.  This verse marks a transition in the thrust of Paul’s letter.  The Apostle has for eleven chapters directed us to the manifold mercies of God.  He has spoken of the greatness of God’s grace in saving wretched sinners like we are!  We love Him for He first loved us!  The Lord is not being unreasonable in demanding we surrender all.  Don’t you understand that He surrendered everything to give you eternal life?
Then, we observe THE REQUIREMENTS OF SURRENDER.  We yield our entire being, particularly our body as an instrument in God’s hands to accomplish His work in the world.  Christ didn’t die only to save our souls, but to redeem the total person.  He wants to use your eyes to see hurting humanity, your ears to hear their cries, your heart to care for them, your feet to go to them, your hands to help them, and your lips to tell them why.  This is a commitment from which there is no turning back—it is living and ongoing. Constantly we surrender—a thousand times a day when faced with God’s will or our will, we choose to follow Him.  “Present” is a definite act—once for all never to turn back, but “living” is a daily attitude.—ongoing in keeping all on the altar.  The sacrifices God demanded under the Old Covenant were to be without blemish.  They were not acceptable if they were not holy.  Repentance from sin is to accompany resignation in sacrifice.  The Pharisees brought offerings to God, but motivated by the applause of man.  Rather than commend them, Christ condemned them.  What is the motive for our surrender?  Our service isn’t to be about our glory, but His.

Finally, we face THE RESULTS OF SURRENDER.  Surrender means we report for duty.  We will serve God doing anything, anywhere, anytime He directs us.  The Old Testament saints brought their sacrifices as an act of worship.  Presenting our bodies to Him is the ultimate in worship.  He gets our minds engaged in meditating on Him and His Word, our mouths open in prayer and praise, our hearts filled with love and joy, and our hands ready to respond in giving and serving.  The world will take notice of such a life.  By this we bear testimony of our estimation of the worth of Christ’s sacrifice.  Today is the day to surrender your all to the Savior.

Friday, August 21, 2015


“And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which He commanded you.”  (I Samuel 13:13a)

The tyranny of the urgent--it never stops screaming at you--something has to be done.  "Do something--even if it's wrong!" the voice demands.  Inaction when God has spoken is sin.  The choice may be hard, the cost may be great,  but delayed obedience is disobedience.  The expedient is another matter altogether.  The expedient may be defined this way: "conducive to advantage or interest, as opposed to right."  (  It is the age-old cliche, "The end justifies the means."  Saul found out the error in the expedient.

The thirteenth chapter of 1 Samuel describes an urgent situation.  Saul's son, Jonathan has stirred up a hornet's nest--attacking a Philistine garrison.  Now, the Philistines mobilize an overwhelming force to fight the Israelis.  Most of the Jews ran for the hills like scared rabbits.  Saul rallied his small contingent,  but even they were fearful.  To his credit, King Saul understood that with God on their side, victory was assured.    Samuel the prophet will come and offer sacrifice, invoking the blessing of God on the battle.  For a week they delay--and still Samuel has not come.  Meanwhile, their peril grew by the minute.

Something had to be done.  The army of Israel was suffering desertion--as the troops were demoralized by what seemed imminent defeat.  Saul caves to the expedient, and assumes an authority not granted him.  He assumes the position of a priest, and acts in haste, offering a sacrifice himself.

He had no more finished, than Samuel showed up.  God is never late--and never early--He is an on-time God!  When we don't align our activity with His will, we get in trouble.  Repeatedly, the Word of God exhorts, "Wait on the Lord."  Saul did not, and his reign would be cut short accordingly.  God would raise up another who would wait--would listen and submit--"a man after H is own heart."  It seemed like such a small act of disobedience when there was such a lofty end in view.  What it revealed was pride and unbelief--deadly sins.

 The error in the expedient for the child of God reveals these terrible twins that are birthed in time of crisis.  We are proud--thinking we must do something--that God needs our help.  We are unbelieving--doubting that God will come through--that He cannot be trusted.  When God says go, don't say, "Whoa!"  When He says, "Whoa!" you better not go--no matter the circumstances, the counsel from others, the internal pressure--or you, like Saul,  may lose your crown!

Thursday, August 20, 2015


“I will call to the LORD, and He will send thunder and rain, that you may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking a king for yourselves.”  (1 Samuel 12:17b)

When clouds gather, lightning flashes, thunder rolls, and conditions are present for destructive storms, the National Weather Service will issue a storm warning.  Data is collected and analyzed, as sensitive instruments indicate dangers that might otherwise catch people unprepared.  Samuel was a man sensitive to the Spirit.  In chapter twelve of 1 Samuel, he issues a storm warning.  God sends a literal storm to confirm the message.  Israel’s first king, Saul has led an impressive victory, but Samuel warns of a storm that is coming.

Samuel had been faithful—his life an inspiring example (v.1-5).  There had been a remarkable consistency from the dawn of his childhood, the brilliant noonday of his ministry, and now as evening shadows of age gather around him, he will leave a legacy of devotion to God and His people.  Will this be our testimony?  Will we end well?  God help us to be faithful!

The Lord is the ultimate model of faithfulness.  Whereas, He has been faithful to His people, they had not been to Him (v.6-11).  They forgot the Lord!  Even so, God disciplined them and did not disown them—remaining devoted to them and delivering them.  For the blessing of God to rest on them, they must fear Him and obey Him (v.12-15).  Those are still the twin rails upon which God’s train of blessing runs—the old T & O: Trust and Obey!

God drives home the point rather dramatically (v.16-18).  During the time of the wheat harvest, rain in rare in Palestine.  God stirs up a storm to show them who is in charge.  The people had demanded a king to reign over them.  In so doing, they had rejected the Lord from being their ruler.  God yielded to their request, but reminded them that their decision would not go well—and that a gnat may as well try to control a rhinoceros as for them to think they could depose God.

Their future prospects would be determined by the degree of their faithful performance (v.19-21).  They confess their sin and cry out for mercy—which is always a good place to start.  If we are off track, the first step to getting back online is to admit it—and that we need God’s help to do so.  That confession is followed by a choice—to spurn the empty wells of this world and drink from God’s fountain that never runs dry.  Our Father may reprove us, but He will not reject us; He may correct us, but will not cast us out (v.22).  He did not choose Israel because they deserved it, but solely by grace.  That is true of us, as well.

If we would stay in touch with God, then His power would deliver us, and His hand would direct us.  Samuel had such a lifestyle of communion with the Almighty (v.23).  To this example here is added the testimony of Ps.99:6 and Jer.15:1.  If we never become faithful in prayer, we will never be faithful in anything else.  How could we fail to delight in His presence and submit in obedience in view of all He has done for us?  Samuel drives home the point (v.24-25).

If God is giving you a storm warning, it is time to drop to your knees and seek shelter in Him!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises….  (Rom.9:4)

A sovereign God has chosen a special people.  According to His will and purpose of grace He set apart the nation of Israel from all others.  This is the subject of Romans chapter nine.  In this section, Paul moves from a general discussion of salvation by faith in Christ to the implications for the Jews who rejected their Messiah.

The Apostle transitions from singing a doxology in chapter eight to a dirge in chapter nine (v.1-3).  Rejoicing in the wonder of God’s love, the mood swings to sorrow, as Paul reflects on how most of his kinsmen have spurned their Savior.  The missionary’s heart aches for their souls—so much so that if he could go to hell in their place, he would be willing!  Thankfully, none of us have to do that—Jesus already did!

Abraham’s seed were selected by God to be His people (v.4-6).  He did not choose them to the exclusion of other nations, but to make them His special light to shine into the darkness of paganism and summon people to God.  Israel had so much potential, so many privileges, yet rebelled against God.  God, in His grace, still sent His Son to them.  Sadly, most rejected Christ.  He makes the point that having Abraham’s DNA isn’t enough to save a person—he or she must have Abraham’s faith in order to claim the covenant promises.

Ishmael was a son to Abraham, but it would be Isaac who received the covenant blessing (v.7-9).  Jesus confronted those wicked religious leaders, who claimed Abraham as their biological father made them God’s children, by telling them the Devil was their father (John 8:39-47)!  Jews—and all who would be saved—must be born again (John 3) for God to be our Father. 

Some of what Paul says here is difficult for us to grasp (v.10-16).  If you can explain every facet of the doctrine of election, then you are likely as omniscient as God.  I admit I believe in election because Scripture teaches it, not that I can completely grasp it.  There are some truths though that are clear.  If anyone is saved it is because of grace and not their own merits.  Jacob didn’t deserve to be chosen.  God set his heart upon Jacob before he was born!  Both Esau and Jacob were twin transgressors.  The astonishing thing is not that Esau was rejected because of his sin, but that Jacob was chosen despite his!  Nobody gets to strut into heaven—all credit goes to God.  Nobody cast into hell can complain God is unjust—all blame goes to sinners.

Pharaoh had a heart that was hard toward God, and God hardened his heart in judgment (v.17-18).  A careful reading of the story in Exodus discloses both dimensions working—an earthly king who defied the rule of Heaven, and that Sovereign in glory bringing hardness on Pharaoh for his impenitent heart.  Scripture warns, “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts,” (Heb.3:15).

Paul anticipates the arguments against the doctrine of election and answers (v.19-33).  God has absolute power as the Potter who molds the clay.  God has the right to do what He pleases with the human clay, and what He pleases to do with us is always right.  Despite our stubborn sin, God patiently reaches out.  A remnant of Jews has responded and the door of grace has opened to the Gentiles, accordingly.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.  (Luke 15:7)

The worth of something is determined by the amount someone is willing to pay for it.  So, how much is one precious soul worth?  What was God willing to pay for our redemption?  It cost the blood of His darling Son.  What is a soul worth to our church?  How valuable is that one who is lost?  Jesus drives home the point in Luke 15 because the religious crowd despised them and thought sinners were only fit to fuel the fires of hell (v.1-3).  Jesus responds with one parable in three illustrations.

The worth of a soul is seen in the devotion of the shepherd in seeking for one lost sheep (v.4-7).  Our question is, if one is valuable, then aren't the ninety-nine others valuable also?  Of course!  It is a matter of priorities. The others are safe and sheltered in the fold.  They are cared well they should be.  There is a crisis, however.  One is lost and in a desperate condition.  It is not like a dog whose homing instincts might lead it back home.  It is not a cat that could claw or climb a tree.  It is not a horse that could gallop away.  It is a helpless, hopeless lamb.  Unless it is sought, it perishes.  Now, that would be sad.  The reality behind the story is far worse.  That sheep stands for the sinner, and death brings an eternity of despair.  Therefore, the evangelizing of the lost must claim priority in every decision for the church.  It is that urgent.  It is the mission of Jesus (Luke 19:10).  Is it ours?

The worth of a soul is seen in the diligence of the woman in seeking for one lost coin (v.8-10).  What effort does this woman go through to find the lost coin?  She turns the house upside down!  Why?  The coin was valuable...and she hoped recoverable!  People mean so much to God—they should to us!  We have to believe that our efforts can pay off.  Diligence and perseverance are required.  Jesus likened our work to fishing for men (Lk.5:10-11). Fish don't typically flop into your boat—you go after them!  The success of our search is related to effort and endurance.
The worth of a soul is seen in the compassion of the father in forgiving one lost son (v.11-32). The first two stories picture the devotion and diligence of a seeker.  The seeker of course is not the sheep or the coin, but the shepherd and the sweeper!  Having said that, there are others who will be rescued from sin only when they have become weary of the high cost of low living.  You can and should warn them, but many won't listen.  This is when we wait and watch—in an attitude of compassion and the activity of intercession—always with the spirt of expectation that when the person has reached the bottom, they will seek a different life.  This story is often referred to as the parable of the prodigal son, but it is more accurately the story of the Father's heart.  We shouldn’t focus on the sins of the son—which is what the elder brother did!  Jesus focused on the forgiveness of the Father!  The party he threw was extravagant.  The self-righteous always have a reaction against reaching lost sinners.  “Where's my party?” is their self-centered concern.

Monday, August 17, 2015


And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.  ‎(Luke 14:27)

The nature of many evangelistic appeals is to get someone to repeat a prayer, sign a commitment card, and get them into the baptistery.  The preacher tries to make it as easy as possible for someone to respond.  The message is often: “Do you want a better marriage?  Do you want to be happy and fulfilled as a person?  Do you want success in business?  Then come to Jesus.”  While it is possible that some of that may happen, Jesus never promised, “Your Best Life Now.”  Dietrich Bonhoeffer, wrote in The Cost of Discipleship, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”  Bonhoeffer was a pastor in Nazi Germany and his opposition to Hitler led to his execution.  If we would follow Christ there are three things we cannot do (Luke 14:26, 27, 33). 

We cannot put anyone in the place only God deserves (Luke 14:25-26).  This teaching is shocking.  It was to the multitudes that first heard it.  It does not mean that we are to literally feel loathing for our family members.  The Bible tells us to honor our parents, for husbands and wives to love each other, for parents to love their children—even to love our enemies.  No Scripture can be interpreted to contradict what it means in another place.  It was a way Jesus used to make a radical comparison.  It meant that the love we have for God is to be so superior to any other love that those other loves would be as hate.  J.C. Ryle gave the practical application this way: “If the claims of relatives and the claims of Christ come into collision, the claims of relatives must give way.  We must choose rather to displease those we love most upon earth, than to displease Him who died for us on the cross.” 

We cannot live for self and live for Christ (Luke 14:27).  The crowd thought Jesus was marching to Mt.Zion to overthrow Caesar and replace Herod—reestablishing the glory days of Solomon—and they would, of course, benefit from it.  Jesus tells them no—He’s marching to Mt.Calvary to bear a cross and die for sinners—and the result would be eternal life—if we follow Him.  That means we must die to self as we take up our cross.  Yet, the airwaves today are filled with the so-called prosperity gospel promising health and wealth if you just have enough faith.  That is the polar opposite of what Jesus says here.

We cannot cling to the things of this world and still hope to possess heaven (Luke 14:28-35).  We might almost conclude Jesus didn’t want people to follow Him, but such is not the case.  What He was doing was separating the wheat from the chaff; the believers from the make-believers; the committed from the curious.  Following Jesus has to do with building and battling—one costs money and the other costs blood—so He told these stories about counting the cost.  What will it cost you?  It could cost you everything (v.33).  We recognize that all we have is God’s and we are just stewards.  He may let us keep it.  He may even multiply it for ministry.  He can claim it when He wants.  Jim Eliot, missionary and martyr said, “He is no fool to give what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”  It costs to follow Christ, but costs much more not to do so!

Sunday, August 16, 2015


And the LORD said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.  (1 Samuel 8:7)

The church of the Lord Jesus Christ is not a monarchy ruled by the pastor.  The pastor is not the lord of the church.  Neither is the church an oligarchy ruled by the deacons.  Deacons are church servants, not church bosses.  Nor is the church a democracy ruled by the people.  The people are the body of Christ, not the head.  The church is a theocracy which means that God rules.  Christ is the head of the church.  If the church is functioning Biblically, the pastors and deacons are taking their lead from Christ, and the members are following according to the direction of the Holy Spirit.  In 1 Samuel 8, we have a time when Israel was a theocracy.  God was their King.  They decided they needed a human king like the other nations, and in so doing, rejected their Heavenly King.  They rejected God, and it is possible we may also.  How does this happen?

They were disappointed with the job performance of Samuel’s sons, and believed that Samuel was too old to lead them competently (v.1-5).  Disappointment with God’s leaders may lead to disillusionment with God’s leadership.  Leaders may fail in their duty—to some degree they will.  Love your pastor, but don’t put him on a pedestal.  Be loyal to your preacher, but don’t worship him.  The finest pastor, most dedicated deacon, or best Sunday School teacher will fall short at times.  Make any mortal an object of faith and you set yourself up for disappointment.

The people responded to the crisis of confidence in leadership by natural reasoning (v.5).  Reason certainly has its place.  A mind is a terrible thing to waste.  God has ordained, however, that revelation be the root of our reasoning.  What they needed was the clear Word of God from His servant Samuel to guide them.  Instead, they turned to the world, rather than to the Word.  Israel wanted to be like the pagan nations around them—ruled by a king.  This is often the tragic choice made by churches today—to employ the world’s philosophy and methodology just because it works in the world.  It is pragmatism and promotes that the end justifies the means.

Samuel felt a sense of rejection (v.6-9).  What did God’s man do?  He took it to the Lord in prayer.  He didn’t bottle it up and become bitter; nor did he blow up and become angry.  He trusted God to handle it.  That is the response leaders must make when the people’s hearts are rebellious.

Rebellion is in our bones.  The desire for personal autonomy and rebellion against authority can be traced back to Eden.  What happened in Samuel’s day, and what is happening in ours, is but the latest edition of the same old story.  Samuel made powerful arguments, but did not persuade them (v.10-22).  They stubbornly responded, “Our minds are made up—don’t confuse us with facts!”  It was an issue of authority.  Would they listen to God’s messenger, and if it was the Word of God and not his own fleshly desires directing him, then follow?  Or, would they think their own logic sufficient and the world’s ways superlative over God’s design?

Trouble would come from rejecting God’s leadership.  Sometimes God’s way of correcting us is by allowing us to eat the bitter fruit we desire.  They did!

Saturday, August 15, 2015


And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”  (Luke 12:15)

Money matters.  Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  How we spend our money is a barometer of how much we value eternal things.  Our earthly portfolio may show plenty, while our eternity portfolio reveals poverty.  Jesus told about a man who had a bumper crop, but a bankrupt soul.  He had the wrong aim in life.  Do you? 

This is A SELFISH APPROACH TO LIFE (v.16-18).  The man had “I” trouble.  “What shall I do…?” he asks.  How about stopping your plans and giving praise to God from whom all blessings flow?  What about looking at others instead of yourself to find out if you can supply a need rather than serve your greed?  Let’s be clear at the outset—this story is not about having possessions, but about possessions having us.  Job was a rich man, but a righteous man.  Abraham was one of the wealthiest men of his era, but also rich in faith.  It’s not sinful to be successful; it is sinful to be slothful.  We can glorify God in our work on the job as much as in our worship in the church.  God may bless us so we can bless others!  We might read this story and think that all investment and retirement plans are evil, yet Scripture extols the industry and intelligence of the ant that plans for the future by working today.  The heart of the matter is a matter of the heart.  This story was in response to a man who wasn’t wealthy, but wanted to be (v.13-15).  Covetousness is a heart problem.  The poor may be anxious about what they don’t have and want to get it and the prosperous about what they do have and want to keep it. 

This is also A SENSUAL APPROACH TO LIFE (v.19).   We live in a physical body that is designed to function in a material world.  We do so through 5 senses: sight, sound, smell, taste and touch.  These stimuli send messages to our brain resulting at times in feelings of pleasure and other times pain.  The problem comes when we think that the material world and the physical senses are the sum total of life—to feel all the pleasure we can and shun all the pain we can.  But, we are more than physical forms—we are spiritual beings.  When this life is over, we will spend eternity somewhere.  Where?  That’s the question!

Furthermore, this is A SENSELESS APPROACH TO LIFE (v.20-21).   “Fool!”  That is God’s judgment—and what a horrible one!  The world’s evaluation may differ greatly—they may celebrate and commend people like this fellow—but, only God’s evaluation matters in the end.  “Whose will those things be?”   Egyptian tombs have been found containing fabulous wealth.  Per the deceased’s instructions, it was buried with them so they would have it in the afterlife.  When the tomb was opened it was found that they left it all behind.  We all will.  You can, of course be “rich toward God.”  That happens when you invest in the things of eternity!
The first riches we need are what Paul called in Ephesians, “the riches of His grace.”  If we don’t have that we are fooling ourselves that we are prepared to meet God.  The riches of grace experienced should move us to share those riches with others.  God blesses us to be a blessing.  Money matters!

Friday, August 14, 2015


For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”  (Romans 4:3)

Do you want to please God?  “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)  Now, let that sink in for a moment.  It doesn’t say that without faith it is unlikely that you can please God.  It doesn’t say that it is difficult or improbable, but the Holy Spirit inspired author says, “It is impossible!”  Faith is the only way to please God.  This is Paul’s theme in Romans 4.

God provides a righteous standing through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ (v.1-8).  This is the one and only way anyone has ever been saved and the only way anyone ever will be saved.  Paul appeals to the authority of the Old Testament as the basis for this belief.  It is the clear teaching of the Word of God.  He will illustrate this doctrine by a man who was a great saint—Abraham—to show that everyone needs to be saved by faith and from a great sinner—David—to show that everyone can be saved by faith.  The word, “accounted” is found 11 times in this chapter.  It is a bookkeeping term that means our debt of sin has been transferred to Christ’s account and His righteousness has been credited to ours!

Most people in our world profess some kind of faith.  There is only one genuine faith. You can profess faith without possessing faith, but you cannot possess faith without professing it (v.9-12).  We are not saved by works, not by faith plus works, but by a faith that works!  There came a time when God commanded Abraham to be circumcised as a symbol of the covenant.  Abraham was already justified by faith.  Circumcision was the outer testimony of the inner transformation.  There are those who insist faith in Christ alone is not enough.  You must believe and be baptized according to the Church of Christ.  You must believe and keep the Sabbath according to the Seventh Day Adventists.  You must have faith in Christ and keep the sacraments according to Roman Catholicism.  It is the great dividing line between the Gospel and a false gospel; between truth and error.  By no means are we suggesting that a person’s lifestyle is unimportant.  Abraham was a faithful servant of the Lord.  It was, however, a walk of faith!  Faith was the root of his righteousness; his good works were the fruit of his faith.

Faith rests in the promise of God.  We aren’t saved by our faithfulness, but by God’s (v.13-25).  The law wasn’t given to Moses until five centuries later, so how could Abraham have known it?  Even had he known it, he couldn’t have kept it.  All the law can do is show us that we are lost (v.15), but that is vital for we won’t be saved until we see that.  God didn’t intend for Abraham to be a reservoir of blessing, but a river of blessing.  He would be the father of all who place their faith in Christ.

In the high court of heaven, you can plead not guilty and go to trial.  The evidence against you will bring the death sentence.  Or, you can plead guilty and throw yourself on the mercy of the court and be pardoned.  Jesus has paid our penalty.  We don’t have to do so!

Thursday, August 13, 2015


So Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.  (1 Samuel 3:19)

A baby girl was born into the Crayton family on this day, a number of years ago—and I am exceedingly glad!  Bob and Louise Crayton named her Marilyn, and she would grow up into a beautiful woman who at the age of eighteen would walk down the aisle and become my wife!  So today I wish her a happy birthday!  Growth is the expected outcome of birth.  That is true physically, but it is also true spiritually.  Having been born again into the family of God, we are not to remain children in the faith, but to mature in Christ.  Samuel gives us an Old Testament illustration of this New Testament truth.  His physical development was accompanied with his spiritual growth as well.  By examining his life, we discover strategies for our growth.

Spiritual growth demands that we be ACCESSIBLE TO GOD (1 Sam.3:1).  A child cannot develop physically without proper nutrition.  He or she must be fed.  Our soul food is the Word of God.  As newborn babes, we are to desire the unadulterated milk of the Word and spiritual growth will occur.  You cannot grow without regularly consumption of the truth of Scripture.  If you are not before an open Bible with an open heart, you are not in a place of accessibility—where God will meet with you and speak to you.  Samuel had spiritual interests.  He served in the Tabernacle, ministering to the Lord.  Despite it being a climate of famine in those days for hearing the Word, Samuel was a notable exception.  He was at the place of worship—accessible to God.  Going to the House of God with the people of God to hear the man of God speak the Word of God is to be taught by the Spirit of God.  That is indispensable if we want to grow.

Spiritual growth also means that we must be ATTUNE TO GOD (1 Sam.3:2-14).  A radio may have a receiver, giving the potential for getting a signal, but it must be tuned to the correct frequency to hear it.  Radio signals are flooding the room where you are located right now, but you may not be hearing them.  You have to be dialed in; the tuner has to be set on the channel.  God is speaking, but are we listening?  The cacophony of noise in this world will drown out the still, small voice of God that whispers to our spirit.  It is why we need a daily quiet time—to tune in to God.  Samuel said, “Speak, for Your servant hears.”  (v.10)  It is Divine revelation requiring spiritual illumination. 

Spiritual growth, furthermore, requires that we be AVAILABLE TO GOD (1 Sam.3:15-21).   Samuel was obedient to God’s Word.  It wasn’t only a message to be studied on, but a mandate to be submitted to.  Obedience became the hallmark of his life.  This resulted in growth (v.19a) and empowerment for service (v.19b).  Samuel became a conduit through which the power of God flowed into the lives of others.  The hand of God upon him was unmistakable.  Those who heard him affirmed his ministry (v.20-21). 

These are the simple strategies for spiritual growth:
·        Be in the house of God where you are encouraged to grow;
·        Have a daily quiet time where you read the Word and seek God in prayer;
·        Obey what God says. 
You will grow!