Easter - 2018

Monday, June 30, 2014

In God we Trust ... Hope ... Find Freedom!

Happy Independence Day… This week we will celebrate the 4th of July in America. It is a day set aside to celebrate our patriotism and the signing of the Declaration of Independance from England. We will watch patriotic programs, celebrate with family and friends, possibly take some time to give thanks for our freedoms as American, we will even renew our commitment to those who sacrificed for our nation. We will be patriots.

Patriots… are people who care about this country, and what it stands for. Patriots are people who recognize the benefits of the Constitution, people who hope to preserve our nation’s values. A patriot is one who votes, earns a honest living, studies our nation’s history and knows what is going on today.

Believers are dual citizens…regardless of what it says on our passports, as Christians, we hold dual citizenship. We’re loyal to our native home, but we recognize that we’re also part of the Kingdom of God. If we at times feel uncomfortable, it’s because we’re not really home yet. The Bible tells us to submit to, respect, and pray for those in governmental authority, but it also lets us know WHO our Sovereign is. We are citizens of Heaven and subjects of the King of kings.

The psalmist in Psalm 146 verse 2 the declaration of a long obedience in the same direction as … “I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praises to my God as long as I live.” A journey of a long obedience in the same direction requires the words, “All my life” and “as long as I live.” There is not a partial following of God’s ways. He doesn’t leave room for some or partial. Either you are all in or you are not. You are on board or you are not in God’s Kingdom.

So we learn to be a patriot in God’s Kingdom is …  in God we trust, in God we hope, and in God we find freedom. 

You Know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Long Obedience Confesses a Sinful Nature

Jacob demonstrated his belief in the sufficiency by his long obedience in the same direction by  asking God for a blessing. However, God first insisted that Jacob tell Him his name. Why? Didn’t God already know his name was Jacob?  (Genesis 32:27) Of course. The name Jacob means “supplanter” which is one who displaces another deceitfully. And that is exactly what Jacob did by tricking his brother out of his birthright and stealing his blessing. So by speaking his name Jacob was confessing his true nature to God. By speaking his name he was confessing to God that he had sinned against his brother. From this we learn the principle that God will not bless a person unless they first confess their sin.

John taught this truth when he wrote, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). And the Psalmist experienced this truth when he said, “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’ -- and you forgave the guilt of my sin” (Psalm 32:5). 

The greatest blessing that God can bestow on a man or woman is the forgiveness and cleansing from sin and that blessing can only be received when we first confess our sin to Him.

Prussian King Frederick the Great was once touring a Berlin prison. The prisoners fell on their knees before him to proclaim their innocence -- except for one man, who remained silent. Frederick called to him, “Why are you here? “Armed robbery, Your Majesty,” was the reply. “And are you guilty?” “Yes indeed, Your Majesty, I deserve my punishment.” Frederick then summoned the jailer and ordered him, “Release this guilty wretch at once. I will not have him kept in this prison where he will corrupt all the fine innocent people who occupy it” (Today in the Word, December 4, 1992).  Admitting you are a sinner is the first step in being set free from the bondage of guilt.

You have sinned. God knows you have sinned. He wants you to agree with him that what you have done is wrong because only then can he bless you with forgiveness and cleansing. 

You know I love ya, Don 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Theoretical verse reality!

God proved to Jacob that his way wasn’t going to work when He disabled Jacob with a single touch that dislocated his hip. With his hip dislocated Jacob realized the greatness of the One with whom he wrestled. We know that Jacob realized that it was actually God he was wrestling because he said, “I saw God face to face...” (Genesis 32:30).

With his hip dislocated all Jacob could do was hold on and cry for a blessing from this God-man. The Bible teaching us some interesting things about being blessed. Hebrews 7:7 says, “Without doubt the lesser person is blessed by the greater.” So by crying out for a blessing Jacob was acknowledging that God was greater than him. By seeking God’s blessing he was humbling himself and exalting God. He realized that only God could provide the blessing he so desperately needed and he believed that God was sufficient. God said to the apostle Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). In his weakened condition Jacob was able to believe in God and so God’s power was made perfect through his weakness. But so many times we find it so difficult to do something so simple as believe in God.

In college a student was asked to prepare a lesson to teach his speech class. He was to be graded on creativity and ability to drive home a point in a memorable way. The title of his talk was, “The Law of the Pendulum.” He spent twenty minutes carefully teaching the physical principle that governs a swinging pendulum. The law of the pendulum is: A pendulum can never return to a point higher than the point from which it was released. Because of friction and gravity, when the pendulum returns, it will fall short of its original release point. Each time it swings it makes less and less of an arc, until finally it is at rest. This point of rest is called the state of equilibrium, where all forces acting on the pendulum are equal.

The student attached a three-foot string to a child’s toy top and secured it to the top the blackboard with a thumbtack. He pulled the top to one side and made a mark on the blackboard where he let it go. Each time it swung back he made a new mark. It took less than a minute for the top to complete its swinging and come to rest. When he finished the demonstration, the markings on the blackboard proved the law of the pendulum.

The student then asked how many people in the room believed the law of the pendulum was true. All of his classmates raised their hands and so did the teacher. The teacher started to walk to the front of the room thinking the class was over. In reality it had only begun. Hanging from the steal beams in the middle of the room was a large, crude but functional pendulum made from 250 pounds of metal weights tied to four strands of 500 pound test parachute cord. 

The student invited the instructor to climb up on a table and sit in a chair with back of his head against a cement wall.  Then the student brought the 250 pounds of metal up to the teachers’ nose. Holding the huge pendulum just a fraction of an inch from the teacher’s face, the student once again explained the law of the pendulum he had applauded only moments before, “If the law of the pendulum is true, then when I release this mass of metal, it will swing across the room and return short of the release point. Your nose will be in no danger.”

After that final restatement of this law, the student looked his teacher in the eye and asked, “Sir, do you believe this law is true?” There was a long pause. Huge beads of sweat formed on his upper lip and then weakly he nodded and whispered, “Yes.”

The student released the pendulum. It made a swishing sound as it arced across the room. At the far end of its swing, it paused momentarily and started back. The student later testified that he had never seen a man move so fast in his entire life as the teacher literally dove from the table (Ken Davis, How To Speak To Youth, pp104-106). It was easy for this teacher to believe in the law of the pendulum when it was all theoretical. But when his life literally depended on the law of the pendulum he showed that his belief was only theoretical. How easy it is for us to believe in God’s sufficiency in church on Sunday morning or in a Bible study. But in the real world where our lives are on the line … too many of us demonstrate that our belief was only theoretical.

A long obedience in the same direction realizes that you have no one else to turn to besides God. You need to trust in God to provide for your needs instead of trusting in yourself. You need a belief that works in the real world with real problems and not just in the pew on Sunday morning. God is more than theory ... He is sufficient. Believe it.

You know I love ya, Don

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A long obedience is filled with tests!

A long obedience is “living” faith. Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. A living faith is to demonstrate the confidence and assurance in every step of every moment of everyday. It is to be confident and walk with assurance that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. It is to know with full confidence that there is a God and that confidence comes from the Assurance that God is taking care of me … and you.

Abraham was a man of great confidence and assurance in God. He lived over 500 years prior to Moses. He was a man the God used to start the redemption bloodline that would eventually be Jesus. God promises Abraham that he would be a father to a great nation…so he waited, and waited, and waited…Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born. He was living a long obedience in the same direction.  Then…some time later God tested Abraham…

“Some time later”, God tested Abraham… this is an interesting development. This was a man that had proven repeatedly that he trusted God. Genesis 12 God Calls Abram and he leaves his home and life. Then is tested in Egypt and he fails the test by lying about his wife. In Genesis 13 Abram is test again with his relationship with his nephew, Lot. Abram rescues Lot in chapter 14 from evil kings. In Genesis 15, God renews his commitment to Abram and tells him that Abram descendants will be as numerous as the stars and the number of grains of sand. In 16, Sarai is tired of hearing about becoming a mother…she is probably over 80 years old at this point. So, she tempts Abram to with he mistress and Abram becomes a father with another woman. This is does not bring good results. Genesis 17 records that Abram is 99 years old and God comes to him and again renews his commitment to Abram and establishes the sign of circumcision. At 99, he and all the males in his household under go the procedure and God changes his name from Abram to Abraham. Abraham is challenged in Genesis 18 with the evil in Sodom and Gomorrah and God rescues his nephew. In Genesis 20, Abraham hands his wife off to another and refers to her as his sister. There is a great trial of morality and God restores order. In chapter 21, Isaac is finally born and then there is a great tension between the new mom and her mistress. So, Abraham is forced to take Hagar and Ishmael outside the community and drop them off. He is forced leave a child behind.

Genesis 22 finds Abraham at probably 110 years old, finally living the fatherhood he has dreamed over for decades and … “God tested Abraham…” Abraham responds with , “Here I am!”  Abraham understands that a long obedience in the same direction is to live as if everyday is a test.

1 Peter 1:7, “These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

So, a long obedience is a life filled with tests… the problem is that we fight the tests of life. They end up being like that old Chinese finger trap. The more we fight the tests that come our way, the harder it is for us to get out of the tangled webs in our lives. The only means to pass the test is to trust God and answer His call.

Are you living a life that embraces the long obedience in the same direction even when the tests come? You know I love ya, Don

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Rest and Take a Break!

Rest and Take a Break! …“Observe my Sabbaths.” Leviticus 26:2.

God is saying take a break and rest awhile. This is a hard principle in our lives. The hats we wear continually pull and tug at us. As you grow in adulthood some of you will be wearing hats of college degrees and the workload is tremendous. Then some of you will wear the hat of the workforce and the challenge to achieve will be demanding. Then some of you will put on the hat of parenting and the child will scream and cry for you to be the best parent on the planet. Then culture will kick in with politics, making money, house payments, car payments, and a boatload of other pressures. God is saying, make it a part of your DNA to take a break. Get some rest and allow for your body to catch-up to your circumstances.

This is true of the party animals and those rest too much. Some of you will need to take a rest and break from resting. Over doing the resting is just plain laziness. God adds, Observe My Sabbaths. The texts assumes we will be hard workers that will need to take a break from the load as well as from the pressures that take place in our lives.

Eugene Peterson describes, “Sabbath as that uncluttered time and space in which we can distance ourselves from our own activities enough to see what God is doing.” This is the principle that allows for us to enjoy that which has been done and which will be done.

Lee Iacocca was the CEO and leader of Jeep-Daimler-Chrysler for many years and had great pressure to achieve in a very competitive industry. He was very successful at it. He was also a good father and believer in God. Where did he find the strength to achieve? He replied… "I know when to take a break. Men and women think they are smart enough to lead fortune 500 companies, but they aren’t smart enough to take a two week vacation."

You know I love ya, Don

Monday, June 9, 2014

Remain Faithful!

Remain faithful“Do not make idols or set up an image or a sacred stone for yourselves, and do not place a carved stone in your land”- Leviticus 26:1

“Remaining” is a hard task in the world in which we live. The world is faster and smaller than ever before. It will change in an instant. Your job is to connect with your roots and “continue in a specified condition.” Does that mean we do not change, absolutely not! In fact, you are expected to change and adjust. Yet, you are also to remain faithful. Faithful is defined as “consistently loyal: consistently trustworthy and loyal, especially to a person, promise, or duty.” You are to be consistently trustworthy to your Creator and to the truths you have learned from your parents, your school experiences, and to the principles that you have learned in your education.

The key to maintaining the essence of life is to refrain from making false truths (idols of metal or money, stone, or artwork) while at the same time adjusting to the increased communication, new science breakthroughs, and more effective rhetoric. To “remain faithful” is to continue in the specific condition that you are a created being, there is a God and you are not Him.

Why does God make this a life principle that will guide us to greatness?

My grandfather was a great man of integrity and faith. He was a man of few words. He spoke maybe three to four sentences a week when I was growing up. I can remember from a very early age that he would say, “Don, you remember who you belong too.” He was saying two things… First, in this family we are connected. As a member of life you are forever connected to this family and community. God is saying the same thing…you are connected to your Creator no matter if things are good or bad. You are to refrain from wrong living, and embrace right living.

Secondly, my grandfather was saying, “Remember what you do reflects on us.” That is also true of your relationship with your family and your connection with the world in which you live. What you do out there is a reflection of those of us in here. God is saying the same thing … what you do reflects on your Creator, use your talents wisely!

God is telling you to remain faithful so as to encourage you that He has your back and that what you do is a reflection of your relationship with him.You know I love ya and remaining faithful through it all. Don

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Long Obedience in Life!

In life....we learn living is not easy....We start off with many dreams and those dreams give opportunities to more dreams and then we grow up into adulthood and we realize that life isn't all about dreams but that the real world needs people to do things other than your dream....Life in reality is not a reality show.

The question that is often raised is: Where is God? Where is God in all this mess? Where is God when I was suffering? Where was God when I lost my job? Or my house was robbed? Or my spouse left? Or when my children started drugs? Or when my baby died? Where was God in all this hard times?

God is still exactly where he has always been. He wants you to know that he has brought you through your suffering and struggle so that you can meet him at the Cross. He knows it is hard and he know that life has not been easy....he does know that life has been necessary so that you know that faith is the only way to survive. 
God intends every type of suffering and hard times to sanctify us. The scars of life establish hope for our future. The scars of life drive us to cling to sanctification. Sanctification is the work of God's free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man, after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness....It is at the cross that hard times come to a DEAD END!

It is our faith that is realized at the scar on the cross... we are renewed by what Jesus did on the Cross. “A believer's awareness of justification, peace, and access is made authentic in our suffering...in our scars.”
Let's consider Romans 5
     Justified through faith:
          Peace through Jesus
              Access through grace (favor)
                     Rejoice in the hope of the “glory of God” = the cross

Every Christ-following believer should have hope because of the scars of justification, peace, and access to grace. The suffering...the scars call to us...the hard times come to a DEAD END at the cross because they motivate, they produce, and they mark Christ-Followers for the purpose of SANCTIFICATION!!!! ( the work of God's free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man, after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.)

We are working through the long obedience in the same direction together...you know I love ya, Don

Monday, June 2, 2014

A Long Obedience in Love!

A few years ago I read a book titled, "Crazy Love," by Francis Chan. He talks about how infinite God is and how Crazy in Love with us that God is. I encourage you to go to www.crazylovebook.com and watch the video on the Awe Factor of God. You will be amazed at how vast our God is and that He loves you. The same Jehovah God that created us, died for us. It is amazing to know without a doubt the love of God and then experience His vastness. All I can do is bow in reverence and worship.

Lets consider the worship truth, God is holy. A lot of people say that whatever you believe about God is fine, so long as you are sincere. But that is comparable to describing your friend in one instance as a three-hundred-pound sumo wrestler and in another instance your friend is a five-foot-two, ninety pound gymnast. No matter how sincere you are in your explanation, both descriptions of your friend simply cannot be true. There is only One God that created us, died for us, and redeemed us.

The preposterous part about our doing this comparison to God is that He already has revealed His name and identity. We don't get to decide who God is. Exodus 3:14 states, "God said to Moses, 'I am who I am'." A few chapters later, God tells God chosen people to be Holy because He is holy. We don't get to change these truths.

To say that God is holy is to say that He is set apart, distinct from us. Because He is set apart, we will never be able to fathom all that He is. To the Jews, saying something three times demonstrates its perfection, so to call God, "Holy, Holy, Holy" is to say that He is perfectly set apart, with nothing and no one to compare Him to. That is what is means to be "holy."

Many Spirit-filled authors have exhausted the thesaurus in order to describe God with the glory He deserves. His perfect holiness, by definition, assures us that our words can't contain Him. Personally, I am glad that I can and do worship a God that is beyond my ability to exaggerate! He is bigger than my feeble mind...His set apart from all my praises, yet chooses to dwell among the praises of His people...He is more powerful than any issue this world throws my direction.

We are all on a journey that is a long obedience in the same direction. I want to be devoted to love on this journey ... not just to love the things I am devoted to, but to be a person that is devoted to loving God and others. You know I love ya...Don