Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Party in Heaven

This past Saturday I took all three of my girls to Chick-fil-a. It was a daddy daughter date for lunch. After they ate they all three got a balloon. On the way out to the car I said to them, "Hold on tight to your balloon's, if you let them go I  can't get it back." One of my daughters quickly spoke up and said, "That's ok, they'll just go up to heaven for the party."

I thought about that for a while, a party in heaven!

You know, there are so many things about heaven that are a mystery, but there are some things that the Bible does tell us about heaven. Here are just a few.

There will be no more crying, pain, or death. (Revelation 21:4)
There will be a great wedding feast (Revelation 19:9)
There will be great rejoicing (Revelation 19:1-7)
Heaven is so great we can't even imagine all that it will be. (1 Corinthians 2:9)

Luke 15:10 tells us that "there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents"

If the angels get excited over one sinner repenting, imagine the joy and excitement went we get to heaven.

Will there be a party in heaven? Absolutely!

And I look forward to being a part of that party! Don't you?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

God's Abundant Resources

Most people never take advantage of God’s abundant resources. Ephesians 3:20 says that God is ...able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think...

The problem is we don't always tap into the tremendous resources that God has made available to us.

The verses just before this is one of Paul's prayers for the church.
Ephesians 3:14-19 says, For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

1st - Paul prays that we would be strengthened ...in the inner man. When we get up in the morning we usually shower, shave, get dressed for the day, make sure our hair is fixed. We spend a lot of time on the "outer man", but oh how our inner man needs that same attention.

2nd - Paul prays that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. This is really how we gain our strength. The word dwell literally means "to make Himself at home". In other words, Paul is praying that Jesus would feel at ease and comfortable in your life. In reality this has to do with Christ being Lord of your life, He must have full control.

3rd - Paul prays that we would be able to comprehend ...and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge. Paul prays that we would understand something we aren’t able to understand.That our understanding would go beyond the mere religious grasp to a personal, growing, overwhelming experience! It's like Paul taking us out on a dark night and looking up at the stars in the sky and vastness of the universe and saying, "God's love for you is bigger than all that." It’s absolutely crazy that He loves me that way! I don’t deserve His love, but He loves me and you anyway!

4th - Paul prays that we would be filled up to all the fullness of God. The following story may help to understand this. A little girl came home from Sunday School and asked her mom, "If God is bigger than we are and if we have God living in us, then wouldn't He show through? And that's the point. We should be so full of God that He shows through.

This prayer that Paul prays for the church is my prayer for my own life, for those in the church where I serve, and for you!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's Day

Who was St. Patrick?
Little is known of Patrick's early life, though it is known that he was born in Roman Britain in the 4th century. 

At the age of sixteen, he was kidnapped by Irish pirates and taken captive to Ireland as a slave.

After six years of slavery he escaped to the Irish coast and fled home to Britain. Upon returning, he studied to be a priest. In 432, he was called back to Ireland, as a missionary, to share the Gospel with the people in Ireland.

Irish folklore tells that one of his teaching methods included using the shamrock to explain the doctrine of the Trinity to the Irish people. 

After nearly thirty years of evangelism, he died on March 17, 461. 

Although there were already some Christians living in Ireland, St. Patrick was able to bring upon a massive religious shift to Christianity. 

Maybe you have worn green on St. Patrick's day and have celebrated for years, but never knew the real story about who St. Patrick was. Now you know. 

So if you are celebrating St. Patrick's day today, remember it's all about a man who answered the call of God to go and tell others about Jesus!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

God Is Good!

Have you ever been asked to describe God? What would you tell a person if you were asked to tell what God is like? Would you tell the person that God is love, powerful, infinite, sovereign, and the creator of the world? Would you ever think to say that God is good?

In Psalms 119:68 we find these words about God, “You are good and do good…(NASB) 

God is good! It is His nature to be good. He can’t be anything but good. All of His actions are good. Everything that God is involved in is good. Even in those times when we don’t understand why something has happened, we can be sure that it will ultimately turn out for good because God is good. 

5 different verses in the Psalms all say the same thing. “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting.” (Psalms 106:1; 107:1; 118:1; 118:29; 136:1 NASB

4 times in Psalm 107 we find these words about the goodness of God expressed toward us, "Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!" (Psalms 107:8, 15, 21, 31 NKJV)

God is so good to give us wisdom, direction, provision, and life itself. You and I receive the goodness of God every day of our life.
Here are just a couple of things you and I receive because of God's goodness.

1. Forgiveness of sin. Psalms 86:5 - For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You. (NASB) 

2. Help in times of need. Hebrews 4:16 - Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (NASB)

Take time to thank God for His goodness toward you today!

Psalms 34:8 - O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! (NASB)

Friday, March 4, 2011

What do you delight in?

According to Webster's Dictionary, to delight in something is to take great pleasure in something.

People seem to delight in many different things: sports, fishing, hunting, shopping, reading, etc.

You might put it this way. It is what happens when there is excitement inside, a tingle, a spark. When we are doing what we really love to do, or when we are with someone we really love.

Psalms 37:4 says, Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.

What does it mean to "delight yourself in the Lord"? I means to take great pleasure in Him. Not in what He has done or in what He can do, but in Him alone. When was the last time you took great pleasure in simply having fellowship with God?

Some people read this verse and think, If I delight in God, He will give me what I want! 

Well that is true in this sense, if we truly delight in the Lord, then the desire of our heart will be to know Him better so we can delight in Him even more, and the Lord will satisfy that desire! This is not a promise for people who want "things," but for those who want more of God in their lives.

So, in what or whom do you delight?

Friday, February 25, 2011

God's Instruction Book

Have you ever bought a new electronic devise (i.e., DVD player, Cell phone, Computer)  and after a period of time is stops working properly? What should you do? You should read the instruction book.

I remember a time when I bought a TVGuardian for our television. It's a small box that filters out bad language from television shows and movies. 

Now before I go on, you need to know something about me. I have a tendency to think I know how things work without ever reading the instructions, especially when it comes to putting things together.

So I hooked everything up and thought I had hooked it up correctly, only to find that it wasn't working properly. So I unplugged the wires are reconnected them a different way. It still did not work.

Finally I had to admit that I needed the instruction book.

Well, the Bible is God’s instruction book for our lives.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 - All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.  (NASB)

And so, when something is going wrong in our lives, why is it that the last thing we think of is to read the Bible? When, in fact, the Bible contains the instruction we need to live righteous lives.

I remember when our children were little babies, and my youngest is just 17 months, so for her it wasn’t that long ago.

I was always amazed at the listening abilities of my wife. Night after night, child after child, when one of them cried, my wife would be up in a flash. I, on the other hand, never heard a thing. I would often ask my wife, “Where are you going?” and then inevitably, I would hear the baby crying.

And I would always wonder, How does she do that? I didn't hear a thing.

Are you a good listener?

We need to be attentive to the Word of God. We need to read it, listen to it, and apply it to our lives.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Holy Spirit - Your Divine Gatekeeper

I have been enjoying my study through the book of Nehemiah and have been learning so much. This week as I was studying Nehemiah chapter 7 I was reminded of something I think we all know, but don't often think about.

Nehemiah 7:1 tells us that the walls of Jerusalem have been completed and the doors to the gates have been put in place. Then is says that Nehemiah appointed gatekeepers.

As I thought about the importance of the gatekeepers to the city of Jerusalem, I was reminded that God has given every Christian a gatekeeper to their heart, the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 3:16 says, Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

Isn't that amazing! When you got saved a Divine Gatekeeper took up residence in your heart - the Holy Spirit! This means you don't have to fight temptation in your own power.

When asked about how he responds when the devil tempts him, Martin Luther said, "When the devil comes knocking upon the door of my heart and asks, 'who lives here?' the dear Lord Jesus goes to the door and says, 'Martin Luther used to live here, but he has moved out, now I live here.' The devil, upon seeing the pierced hands takes flight."

I love the picture that brings to my mind.

1 John 4:4b says, …greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.

The next time the devil comes knocking, let the Holy Spirit take on the devil for you!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Don't Just tell me, show Me!

Today is Valentine's Day. A day to tell our friends and family how much we love them. Often times we do this with a card, flowers, a special dinner, or some small gift. 

When I go to choose a card for my wife, I take a long time looking at all the cards and I usually go to several stores before I find the right one. You see, I want to make sure it says, exactly how I feel about her.

I make sure I tell my wife "I love you" often, but I know that she appreciates it more when I show her that I love her. Things like: spending time with her, taking her out for a special dinner occasionally, and helping her around the house. These are some of the things I can do to show my wife how much I love her.

You know, God not only tells us how much He loves us in His Word, but He also showed us how much He loves us.

Romans 5:8 says, But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 

Isn't it amazing that God would die in our place and offer us forgiveness and eternal life!

God likes it when we tell Him that we love Him, but He likes it more when we show Him.

John 14:15 says, If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.

How can you show God that you love Him today?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Faith that overcomes discouragement

Last night I had the privilege of screening a new movie that will be released in theaters on April 8th. The movie is called Soul Surfer. 

It is a true story of teen surfer Bethany Hamilton, who lost her arm in a shark attack and through her faith in God overcame discouragement and defeat to become a champion surfer once again.

As I watched the movie I couldn't help but think of  the "sharks" in my own life that would try to steal my joy. It is all too easy to become discouraged when my plans don't go my way. But it is during those times that I have to remember that God's ways are not my ways.

God has a wonderful plan for your life. Jeremiah 29:11 says, For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.

So do you have enough faith to trust that God knows what He is doing, even when things don't make sense?

To see the trailer for Soul Surfer, click HERE

To meet the real Bethany Hamilton, click HERE

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What Part of the Body are you?

I've been preaching through Nehemiah and this last Sunday we were in Nehemiah 3. Now if you read through that chapter you will find that it is filled with a lot of difficult names to pronounce. But you will also notice that with every name there is a description of the job that person did as they rebuilt the wall together.

This reminds me of what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 12:12For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.

You can read the whole passage here.

Basically what Paul is saying and what Nehemiah understood, is that we are all different and all have a job to do. 

Just like our physical body has ears that hear, eyes that see, and feet that walk. The body of Christ has different parts that perform different functions. 

When was the last time you said, "Boy I wish I could see with my feet, or smell with my ears." Nor do we say, "I wish I was one large foot, or one large eye."

Diversity isn't just an accidental attribute of the human body, it's all part of God design. And the same is true when it comes to the body of Christ. We are all different and have different jobs to do. God designed it that way!

So the question has to be, "What role will you play?", "What member of the body are you?", How will you help to make the body what it ought to be?"

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Are You Successful?

How do you define success?

Webster's Dictionary defines success this way: (1) Favorable or desired outcome; (2) The attainment of wealth, favor, or a position of prominence or superiority.

I believe a better definition and a biblical definition would be: Finding and doing the will of God for your life, for the glory of God.

How often we look at others around us who have more money then we do, are more popular that we are, or who have reached a certain level of prominence and we think, "if only I could be like them or have the things they have, then I would be successful".

I guess it all depends on your perspective. Do you want to be considered successful in the eyes of the world? Then yes you need to have money, friends, and prominence. But if you want to be considered successful in the eyes of God, all you need to do if follow His plan for your life and do it for His glory.

Are you ready to be successful in God's eyes? Seek Him and His plan for your life, then do it with all your heart for the glory of God.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Waiting on the Lord

I remember as a child singing the song "Have Patience".

Have patience, have patience
Don't be in such a hurry
When you get impatient
You only start to worry
Remember, remember that God is patient, too
Just think of all the times when others
Have to wait for you.

This song immediately came to my mind this week as I was studying Nehemiah 2. 

If you read my blog last week, you will remember that Nehemiah received some bad news in chapter 1 and as a result he was burdened for the people of Jerusalem and began to pray and seek the Lord as to what he could do.

Now as chapter 2 opens, it has been four months of waiting on the Lord and finally God gives Nehemiah the ok to proceed with the plans.

How about you? Have you been seeking God about a problem or a concern, only to have God say, "wait"?

We need to learn to have enough faith to wait on the Lord. Perhaps God is preparing you for something big or perhaps He is preparing someone else to join you in the plans He has for you. Either way it is better to wait on the Lord and His timing then to do things on our own.

Psalms 27:14 - Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.  (NASB)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The "TATER" Family

Have you met the TATER family? Let me introduce you.

Some people never seem motivated to participate, but are just content to watch while others do the work. They are called Spec Taters.

Some people never do anything to help, but are gifted at finding fault with the way others do the work. They are called Comment Taters.

Some people are very bossy and like to tell others what to do, but don’t want to soil their own hands. They are called Dick Taters.

Some people are always looking to cause problems by asking others to agree with them. It is too hot or too cold, too sour or too sweet. They are called Agie Taters.

There are those who say they will help, but somehow just never get around to actually doing the promised help. They are called Hezzie Taters.

Some people can put up a front and pretend to be someone they are not. They are called Emma Taters.

Then there are those who love others and do what they say they will. They are always prepared to stop whatever they are doing and lend a helping hand. They bring real sunshine into the lives of others. They are called Sweet Taters.

One thing I have discovered as I am preaching through the book of Nehemiah, is that Nehemiah was one who cared.

God doesn't saved us just so that we can slide through life watching everyone else do all the work. God calls us to get involved and make a difference.

Read Nehemiah 1 this week and see if God just might be calling you to make a difference in someones life this week.

God is still looking for people who care, people like Nehemiah, who cared enough to ask for the facts, weep over the needs, pray for God's help, and then volunteer to get the job done.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

What are your New Year's Plans?

We are now 5 days into 2011. Have you made any New Years resolutions? Have you kept them so far? Many people make New Years resolutions, here are some of the more popular ones:

Getting into Shape
Getting More Organized
Giving up Bad Habits
Get out of Debt
Spend More Time with Family

What ever your New Year's resolutions many be, keep in mind the reason why we do the things we do.

1 Corinthians 10:31 says. Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (NASB)

Are you glorifying God with the things you do?

Have a happy new year!