I used to love watching Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone. Serling would begin the episode with, “You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension…” Serling would then introduce the episode.
I want us to unlock a door with the key of our imagination. What I’m about to share with you seems humanly impossible, because it is.
This past Sunday Evangelist Ed Lacy preached two sermons that greatly impacted the life of our church. One particular thing he said really stuck with me. Brother Ed said, “We become what we behold.” He was encouraging us to have “a daily, consistent, quality, priority time with the Lord.”
Whatever my focus is that day, my feelings will be steered in that direction. Do I look around at all the calamity and chaos, or do I look up to Christ? If I want to become more like Jesus, how can I do that when the majority of my attention is on this world?
Eleven years ago to this day, I got the call that I didn’t want to hear. My son’s mother was calling me at 2 pm, and immediately I knew Eddie had been killed in Iraq. I knew this before I answered the phone, because somehow I knew this day would come. I knew this because the Holy Spirit had been preparing me for it. When I saw the number, the Holy Spirit spoke into my heart, “Prepare yourself.”
When I answered the phone, Eddie’s mom was crying and sobbed, “Eddie’s gone.” An Army casualty notification team was at her house. She insisted on calling me to tell me herself so I wouldn’t have to go through the same shock. At first the team objected, but Tina insisted. I spoke with the Chaplain on the phone, gave him my address, and told him I would be home when they arrived later that afternoon.
If you knew someone was going to betray you, someone very close to you in whom you invested your heart and soul, could you still love them? Could you still love them as Christ commanded and portrayed for us when He washed His Disciples’ feet?
Right before he gives an account of this amazing display of love, the Apostle John gives us an insight into the true heart of Jesus:
This past Sunday, my pastor Dr. Dennis Brunet, made a statement and encouraged us to write it down. Speaking on Jesus’ words in John 8:11 he said, “The voice of Jesus is the voice of hope.” I not only wrote it down, but I also decided to write a devotional about it. It has been a while since I’ve written one, and this is an excellent topic.
In a world that today can seem hopeless, knowing Jesus does not condemn us is a beacon of hope. Our sin condemns us, to clear up any confusion. There are some universalist teaching out there that says we’re all going to heaven because Jesus died for us.
The late Billy Graham once wrote that 95% of Christians live spiritually-defeated lives. That means only 1 out of 20 Christians live the victorious Christian life. Why are so many blood-bought, born-again Christians being defeated? It is because they keep picking a fight with letting go of their own will. They refuse to surrender to the Holy Spirit.
When you read the famous but often hard-to-understand passage in Romans 7:13-24, it is easy to get the feeling that the fight against our flesh is futile. It would be had Paul ended his gospel to the Romans in such a manner. Thankfully, he did not.
If American churches are going to be revived, they will have to rid themselves of Convenient Christianity. Christians who are looking for a savior that works like an app on their smartphone are obviously missing the point. As MercyMe sings in their song, “Wishful Thinking:”
‘Cause without suffering grace is hard to see
So maybe I’m right where I’m supposed to be
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Last Sunday, my pastor said we should practice thanksliving instead of thanksgiving. That really struck a chord in my heart, especially having just returned from our men’s retreat. I have so much to be thankful for, and yet many times you wouldn’t know it by my attitude. The old saying, “Your attitude determines your altitude,” is never truer than today.
For me to live thanksliving, it must become a deliberate act in my life. I have to purpose in my heart to be humbly grateful instead of grumbly hateful, as my pastor is wont to say. I must start my day as the psalmist wrote:
While driving to work last Friday morning, I was listening to K-LOVE and one of the morning DJs, Amy, shared an interesting statistic. She said that one-third of the people polled said that going to church was very important to them. She did not share who conducted the poll nor who was among those polled. Either way the statistic is alarming.
If it was a mix of all Americans, then that statistic is very telling. It means that 2 out of 3 Americans do not consider church an important part of their lives. That alone explains many of the ailments in America. At America’s founding, the large majority of Americans not only considered going to church important, but it was also the central cultural influence in their lives.
Imagine beginning your day knowing that it would be a good and productive day. This doesn’t mean there wouldn’t be any challenges or changes in direction, just that you had a clear path on what it is the Lord wants you to do, and how to move forward. Many books have been published that promise such productivity, but one simple verse from the Bible explains how such a day can occur:
“But the path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day.” (Proverbs 4:18)
This morning I looked up the word independence in my Thompson Chain-Reference Bible index and could not find it. However, I did find the words dependence and freedom. Americans like to consider themselves as a free and independent people. As Christians, we are to consider ourselves dependent of Jesus Christ:
“Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.” (2 Corinthians 3:5)
The writer of Hebrews tells us that “without faith it is impossible to please God.” It is also true that a Christian cannot conduct God’s business, “His kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven,” without faith. As Dr. Charles Fowler recently taught my church during a prayer conference, “Faith is the commodity of heaven.”
Faith is simply trusting God. However, that simple definition can cause much confusion. As is rightly stated in Ewell’s Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, “Faith in God involves right belief about God.” It is vital that we have a biblical view of who God is.
Are you a worry wart? That’s seems like an inappropriate question, or at least grammatically incorrect. A wart is a thing; not a person. So, I guess we could ask, “Do you have a worry wart?” Or perhaps, more accurately and simpler, “Are you a worrier?”
If you ask people what they want most in life, many will say peace of mind. Imagine if the great majority of people actually had peace of mind. However, Christians should desire a greater level of peace. Instead of settling for peace of mind, believers need to strive for the peace of God:
Life can be hard. Every day people face marital issues, financial problems, unemployment, business failures, or even persecution, just to name a few. It is in these desperate times that we seek relief from any number of sources. For the Christian, he or she should be seeking God’s word for such relief. The biblical antidote for such anxiety is rejoicing:
“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)
This past Easter weekend I heard a K-LOVE disc jockey tell her listeners that on occasion we should celebrate ourselves. For those of you not familiar with K-LOVE, it is a Christian radio station that plays great music and often delivers bad theology.
The young lady’s main point I believe she was trying to get across is that every once in a while, it is good to pamper ourselves. Although that is not at all what she conveyed, I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt. Her exacts words were, “Celebrate you, because Jesus does!”
Recently, a brother-in-Christ approached me and asked me to pray for him because he was battling with a sense of not fulfilling his potential. He believed that while he knew God was providing, he felt that he could be doing so much more. I told him that was a man thing.
God has wired men to be hunter-gatherers and we always have a sense of needing to provide for our family. If that sense leaves a man, that is usually a sign of spiritual sickness. However, the longing for more can simply be idolatry, but in many men, it is a longing to do more for the Lord and for his family.
There are times when I forget that I am going to have to give an account for every action and word I take and speak. Thankfully, God gives me reminders of this eternal truth and one such reminder came yesterday at church.
Our pastor is preaching on Christ’s seven sayings from the cross. Yesterday he was reading from Matthew 27 when the reminder came to my mind:
There is a saying in the entrepreneurial industry that ideas die in the daylight. What that means is someone will conceptually come up with a great product idea, but tactically they never implement it. The same can be said for the Christian walk.
As believers, we often make resolutions to study our Bibles, spend more time in our prayer closets, or share the gospel with a loved one, and yet the intention dies in the daylight. The reason that happens is we saturate our plan with human effort instead of heavenly grace: