Celebrating Me

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!”

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Sullied Sacrifices

Imagine your loved one giving you a Christmas gift that looked as though it took him or her three minutes to throw together. There was no effort put into getting your gift, no cost or value, no sacrifice of time or resources. Now if it’s your two-year old child doing so, that is cute and heart-warming. If it is your spouse, then you’d be in a heap of trouble.

So why do we give such ungrateful gifts to the Lord our God? Why do we give Jesus the scraps from our table when we’re finished with the day? In some cases, we don’t even do that. The reason is we don’t love our Lord enough. We express our love to one another in the sacrifices we make for each other. To do otherwise is to be guilty of the same sullied sacrifices for which the Prophet Malachi confronted Israel:

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At Our Disposal

Just about every Christian radio station you listen to has its daily “power verse.” While I appreciate a good Bible verse every day, I wonder how many Christians actually allow the Scriptures to strengthen their daily lives?

Do we seek God’s word for His wisdom and strength to get through our workaday lives, or are we using Bible verses like a quick charge from an energy drink? Of course, turning to the Bible for strength in moments of weakness does help us get through the day, but God wants us to thrive instead of just survive.

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Stopped Loving God

At a recent men’s Bible study, we had split up into small prayer groups when one of the gentlemen in my group said that he had once fallen out of love with God. I told my group I once believed that is what happened, but in actuality we stop loving God.

When someone falls out of love with another, that relationship is usually over. This is how so many divorces happen. However, if a person has stopped loving another, they’ve allowed their love to grow dormant, and that can be rekindled with purposeful effort.

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Pleasing God

As Christians, we are not saved by good works; we are saved by grace. Grace is God’s unmerited favor towards us through the substitutionary work of Christ on the cross. He paid for our sins, and when we accept that payment we receive redemption. To redeem something, such as a coupon, it must be acted upon. So we’re not save by Christ’s sacrifice until we see our need for it and then accept it.

However, once we become Christians, our works are very important to God. They are evidence of being a child of God. I’ve written before that a stingy Christian is an oxymoron. We should be the most caring and giving people in society, and for the most part we are. It pleases our Heavenly Father when we do good works:

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A Matter of the Heart

A stingy Christian is an oxymoron; or at least it should be. If Christians merely obeyed God’s command to tithe, it would radically change the world. Statistics I found online in a Relevant Magazine article show that only ten to twenty-five percent of a normal congregation is made up of tithers. Furthermore, only 1 out of 20 Americans tithe, with 80 percent of them giving only 2 percent. Finally, Christians tithe 2.5 percent in these abundant times, whereas during the Great Depression they gave 3.3 percent.

In his article, Mr. Holmes goes onto to described the impact the church would have if we were to tithed as commanded. He further states that giving is not a money issue; it is a heart issue. When I finally began to tithe as I knew that Lord wanted of me, it changed my heart. However, it didn’t change it about money; it changed my heart about materialism.

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A False Christianity

You’ve no doubt heard that all religions lead to heaven and worship the same god. If this is true, then Christianity is a lie. Christianity is the only religion where salvation comes through grace alone, by faith in Christ. All other religions require some sort of works to receive salvation. This means Christianity is the opposite of all other religions. Two opposing belief systems can be wrong, or one can be right. However, both cannot be right.

Believers around the world celebrated Christianity’s holiest day yesterday. Most call it Easter; others prefer to call it Resurrection Sunday. Regardless its name, a Risen Savior is the center of the celebration. Many denominations are now rejecting a crucified and risen Christ. This too is a false Christianity. The Bible declares as much:

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Being Right

One thing that has become painfully clear in this election cycle is that those who describe themselves as evangelical may have those type of values, but they are not living them out. We can say we believe something, but if that belief does not translate into behavior, then we are only fooling ourselves. Our children and colleagues can clearly see the difference.

How does one not live out that which he or she says they value? They do so by not having a biblical worldview. A biblical worldview is only attained through devoted study of Scripture. Scripture is to be read, taught, and meditated upon so that it has the chance to take root in our hearts and thereby into our consciences. That is why the Apostle Paul reminded Timothy thusly:

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Facing Our Sins Squarely

One of the more concerning things I’ve heard Donald Trump say is that he has never sought forgiveness from God because he’s never seen a need to. This is not exclusive to Mr. Trump; I myself once believed this. So did most Christians before they saw their need for Christ. As much as I needed Jesus Christ to save me, so does The Donald and all who believe as him. This is not my political opinion; this is what the Bible teaches:

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” (1 John 1:8-10)

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The Greatest Thief of Joy

I know people who make worrying an Olympic sport. I don’t mean to insult those who worry, but I want those who are habitual worriers to lean in a little closer and listen carefully. Never in the Bible are we told to worry; quite the opposite. Throughout both the Old and New Testaments we are told to “fear not” and “do not worry.” When we are commanded to do something and we do the opposite, we sin.

No doubt none of you worriers consider yourselves a sinner for this reason. I understand that, but just as important as overcoming sin, I want you to realize that worry steals your joy and affects your health. The Apostle Paul was a man greatly persecuted for his faith and in fact he wrote the following words from a Roman jail:

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A Marvelous Testimony

Do you have one? Do you have a marvelous testimony? The word testimony comes from the Latin testi- and means “to witness.” The suffix –mony is used in Latin abstract nouns, in this case signifying a function. So testimony is the function of witnessing.

As a Christian, do you perform the function of witnessing? Testifying to what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for believers was very high on His list. Many times after healing a person, Jesus would command that person to go tell people what had happened. One well-known case was after Jesus healed a demon-possessed man.

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Rejecting Cain’s Worship

thHave you ever heard someone say, “I can worship God anyway and anywhere I want?” Perhaps you’ve said or thought this. I know it is a convenient thought, but convenience is rarely the path we should take. When it comes to worshipping God, we have to do as He commands. We don’t get to pick and choose.

Many people get upset with me when I tell them this, but at least they haven’t wanted to kill me. Do you realize that the first murder ever committed by man was rooted in God’s rejection of man’s self-determined worship style? Have you ever heard of Cain?

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7even Times Down

I cannot take credit for the “clever” title spelling of this devotional; it’s the name of a Christian music group. However, my pastor reminded me of the story of Naaman during a sermon as he was preaching on obedience. To refresh our memories about Naaman we turn to the Old Testament account:

“So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.” (2 Kings 5:14)

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Seeking Great Things For Ourselves

“Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:4-7)

If you went back to your hometown where near or distant relatives lived, would you have to get a room at a hotel? Now some of us might choose to get a room, but would you have to? Or do you have family and friends in your hometown that would be delighted to put you up while you visited. In fact, most would insist you stayed with them.

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The Heavenly Trailblazer

One of the skills I appreciate most that I learned in the Army is the ability to navigate with just a map and a compass. Now that might come as a surprise to my wife and daughters, knowing my stubborn male ego and refusal to ask for directions at times. Nevertheless, I was taught and have taught land navigational skills.

One area in the world where you really rely on these skills is in the desert, especially at night. If you are familiar with the terrain, you can become comfortable navigating using terrain recognition during the day.

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Worshipping God For Who He Is

I wanted to share something else from Brother Pete’s sermon last Sunday. He encouraged us to “Worship God not for what He’s done for you, but for who He is.” That really struck home with me because outside of church I must confess I rarely do that. Normally my worship of God is in thanksgiving for what He’s done for me. I want to be more like David and worship God for who He is:

    “Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” (Psalm 29:2)

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Smelling Like Jesus

What would be your response if someone told you that you smell like Jesus? Would you think that person odd? Would have to seek clarification? Would you nervously thank him or her, look at your watch and hurry away? Or would you understand the tremendous compliment that had just been paid to you?

This may seem a funny topic, but yesterday in church our Minister of Discipleship and Evangelism Pete Belmain was preaching on “What It Means Not to Waste Your Life” and I was struck by something he mentioned. His fourth point was a life that is selflessly devoted to Jesus results in love-driven conduct. He was preaching from the familiar passage of Mary anointing Jesus with expensive spikenard. In John 12: 3 we read:

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Turning the Corner

Life can be so busy that we miss it. Our schedules rule our days and even the slightest desire to “stop and smell the roses” is overruled by our next appointment or destination. Our busyness is the shame of the modern world.

Our pastor has begun a three-part study of Psalm 19 where David writes of “The Perfect Revelation of the Lord,” as it is described in my Bible. I confess that I am guilty of filling my day with things that lack any eternal value in light of Scripture. As my pastor began reading the first six verses of the psalm, I couldn’t get past verse 1:

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Spiritual Nourishment

Knowing God’s will; that seems to be the great mystery to many a Christian. We studied that last Sunday in Bible study. Volumes have been written on it. In fact, I’m working on just such a book. Part of the mystery was unlocked for our church at least in our pastor’s latest sermon. I wonder how many in attendance even caught the clue. Pastor Brunet said, “Doing the will of God is how I am spiritually fed.”

He was preaching from John 4 when Jesus was met by His disciples after talking to the woman at the well. The disciples had gone into the city Sychar to get some food and upon their return urged Jesus to eat. The Lord told them He had “food to eat of which you do not know.” Again they missed the point; Christ was talking about spiritual food. Nevertheless, Jesus cleared up their confusion:

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