Jesus: King of kings (Presidents, congress, etc)

After 70 years of captivity the temple is built in Jerusalem. It’s not only blessed by God its blessed by government!

Ezra 6:3 – In the first year of Cyrus the king the same Cyrus the king made a decree concerning the house of God at Jerusalem, Let the house be builded, the place where they offered sacrifices, and let the foundations thereof be strongly laid; the height thereof threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof threescore cubits

Funded, protected and encouraged by them to prosper.

Ezra 6:7-8 ~ Let the work of this house of God alone; let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews build this house of God in his place. Moreover I make a decree what ye shall do to the elders of these Jews for the building of this house of God: that of the king’s goods, even of the tribute beyond the river, forthwith expenses be given unto these men, that they be not hindered.

As I read through Ezra 6 this morning I couldn’t help but think of the present affairs of our government and the state of the Church in America. I really don’t anticipate at any time in the near future we would hear our president say “Let’s build the church! Those of you who oppose it, back off… and church… whatever you need to get it done, just let me know.” But that was what was happening in Jerusalem. And what was the difference? God’s sovereignty.

Can it happen again? Yes: because we still serve the same God. Will it? I don’t know. But one thing about this passage that I gained great peace in this morning was the knowledge that God is and always will be the King of kings. Regardless of the enemies plot against us we are still very much in the control of Almighty God. Those in political power over us have no sovereign power over us. And if God so chooses He can use their intent for destruction of our nation to be used for our good. Revelation 12:16a says “And the earth helped the woman…” With that in mind, He can also use circumstance to get us into a position where we only have Him to look at.

I know that things look bleak in America, but I’m looking at America through the heart of a church. Israel had just came out of 70 years of captivity. They were no longer the nation of great wealth, not only had their place of worship been destroyed but their means to rebuild it taken away as well. And God said (or so in my mind I think He could have) “It was never yours to start with. It’s Mine. I allowed them to tear it down, and I’ll cause them to build it back.” And so the work was completed and Israel was a humbler nation because they knew they didn’t do it.

I see the church today being humbled because we’ve allowed our earthly kings and queens to take away our rights to worship. But they have no means to tear down the temple; for our temple is within us. They can discourage us which takes its toll on our productiveness for the cause of Christ, but where does that put us in the scope of the politics that we see playing out in front of us today?

Apostle Paul nailed it for success when he said in 2 Corinthians 4:8 – We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;

Why are we acting like a people with no hope? Yes I’m a cockeyed optimist. Yes I will always look for the silver lining in a storm cloud, and above all I believe that Jesus will take me through. Do I think there could be some hard times ahead for America? Yes. But I also know that we serve the same Almighty God of Israel and that He controls the kings. And every time they get that smug, I’m in control look; God laughs. And every time they take a swing at the children of God who are trying to turn America back to the foundational beliefs we were founded on, He takes note. Of them… and us. How will it end? For certain in defeat if we continue to do nothing. But where there is a remnant… there is hope.

Romans 11:5 speak of Israel when it says “Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.”

I am grateful to be grafted into the family of God. God notes the remant.

That Preacher said whaaaaatttt?

I’m not a preacher, nor am I a Bible scholar. I’m a Bible ponder-er. I was taught as a baby Christian to never assume what someone says about the Bible is correct, but rather read it myself, study the Word and the commentaries and let the Holy Spirit reveal truth. He is faithful. I seldom argue scripture because those who are inclined to argue are usually unwilling to consider any other possible truth than what they’ve determined already. And in so doing they short change themselves and Satan keeps their eyes blinded to the truth. In Acts 17 the Apostle Paul had just left from ministering to a sect of Jews in Thessalonica where (vs. 4) some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few. And not surprisingly there were some religious people upset who, rather than search the scriptures themselves for the truth, joined forces with lewd fellows vs. 5) and caused an uproar in the city. There is a great correlation there with the world today. There are churches today that rather than getting on fire and turning the world (vs. 6) upside down for Christ, would rather just take the word of the world that what they need is acceptance of everyone’s word as fact; and harmony among the people will result. When in actuality what happens is not harmony, but fear and cowardice to proclaim the truth.

After the uproar Paul left them to their unwillingness to hear the Word of God and moved on to Berea and the church of double checkers.

Acts 17:11 – These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

They didn’t take Paul and Silas’ word or anyone else’s word; they too had been trained to research what thus saith the Lord. I cannot number the times when I have heard a preacher preach and hear inside my head “say whaaaatttt?” Is that the truth? And sure enough it was!

To know the truth in this world of lies you need to not only hear the Word of God, but read the Word of God let the Holy Spirit speak to you as to how to react. When Paul seen the upheaval in Thessalonica he knew it was time to move on. God’s usually not in the uproar. When people begin to argue and debate about what the Word of the Lord says in an uproarious way it is more about them than Him (God). But when a willing people hear the Word, know it as truth and react in a noble (decent and upright) way, people get saved!

(Vs. 12)  Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.

Be forewarned that if you become a double checking, soul stirring, saint of God that turns the world upside down for Christ; people are going to be upset.

(Vs. 13)  But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people

The religious people of Paul’s day were so upset about Christianity spreading that they left their own church to stir trouble in someone else’s. Hmmm….I’ve seen that a time or two as well!

It is my prayer that you and I both will be double checkin’ soul stirrin’ saints of God that turn our communities upside down! Go forth friend… Be noble, knowledgeable and noteworthy. Remember, God’s taking notes.

Zealot’s and Drunkards, a trip to Church

John 2:17 –  And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.

Several years ago I sat in a meeting with some people of great authority in the organization I worked with. Although a few of them that I had worked closely with knew my stand in faith, several of the others likely assumed that I also treated Sunday as a “different” kind of day. When Monday came it was time get to work with the matters at hand and turn off “religion.” I agree. Hallelujah I never turned it on. But at this particular meeting our conversation went from “How great church was on Sunday to joking about how bad their hangovers were from Saturday and how very little they got from the service.” My face was red enough to light a cigarette off of or ashen white, I don’t recall, I just remember there was a color change.

This story came to mind this morning as I read the story of Jesus overturning the table and cleansing the temple. His disciples remembered that zeal from Psalm 69:9 where David had written the prophetic statement “For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me.” The priest was forcing Jews to replace their good offe(rings by purchasing sacrificial animals from his own market. And now you may ask “What does that have to do with a bunch of drunk setting in a meeting on Monday?”

The people that I sat with in that meeting were not only people of authority in the organization I worked for, they were also people of authority in their church. And as they joked about their drunken state of mind I wanted to overturn their table. Their church was a newly built one that I passed every day and loved! It looked like a Thomas Kinkade painting… that’s kind of ironic from the way that Kinkade’s life ended. But it was and is a beautiful church. But one thing that strikes me as odd as I pass this church is the sign out front lists only a Sunday a.m. service. No Sunday p.m. service or Wednesday night, Just Sunday and I want to shout at it every time I pass “Where is your zeal people?”

It’s not just that church, its churches across America. And it’s not the church I’m concerned with, it’s the people outside the church. The final sacrifice has been made for us, Jesus Christ. There is no longer a priest making atonement for our sins, Jesus did that once and for all. And we (those who are saved) are now priests. (1 Peter 2:5) It is our responsibility to make sure the Word of God goes forth in our communities and that the Name of Christ is lifted high and we’re allowing nitwits like those I mentioned to drag His precious name through the mud and make a mockery of His house. The leadership of the church is attesting the lack of importance God plays in their life by making His house a Sunday morning token of their time. And the worlds says… “Why bother?”

Is it any wonder that Christ turned the table over and drove them out with a whip? What kind of heart would the people who had come to worship have when the priest was a crook? It makes me want to puke and I wasn’t even there.

I realize that those who read this blog are likely committed Christians, else you’d probably not bother. So why do I bother writing this. It’s a call to prayer. It’s a call to self-examination. Are we eaten up with zeal, or is the world eating us up?

In the story of Thomas Kinkade’s death his brother reported “that years of mean-spirited personal attacks on the painter and a split from his wife and four daughters wore Kinkade down. That led to his battle with alcoholism over the past four to five years.” The world we live in is a mean place, and it’s easy to lose our zeal for life. How a man like Kinkade, who inspired millions, could end on such a note is beyond my comprehension. And yet when I see the defeated lives of Christians everywhere I can understand how they can go from the church pew to the board room without any change, because so few churches now expect it.

They need to see us. We need to turn over a few tables and make it known that we expect a difference in our houses of worship. Amen?

Hold Fast to That Good Thing!

2 Timothy 1:13-14

Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.

That Good Thing I Gave You

Have you ever had that friend who entrusted you with some treasure, perhaps it was a gift, and then out of the blue one day, unexpectedly, they brought up that gift and ask how you were enjoying it? You hadn’t really even had time to enjoy it. It was appreciated but there was so many other gifts that you’d received and that one seem to pale in comparison. I feel that’s how we treat the Word of God. We have no concept of its true value and so many shinier, prettier things vie for our attention. That is one of the reason I’m very careful about what version of the Bible I read, (there’s a difference between virgin and a young woman) and I know that many days of my life have been lived in defeat because I didn’t read His Word and receive or heed the instruction that I needed for the day.

Hold fast… Don’t let it go!

Sound words. There will come a day, and likely already has when you’re going to need them. Satan is the father of lies and he distorts little by little to add confusion (remember he ask Eve “did God say?”), he waters it down to lessen its strength, he fills your time with more important (shinier) things to keep you from reading the Word of God because he knows the power that is within those pages. The greatest of which is to overcome him! Holding fast is a deliberate action. You have to determine in your heart that every day God’s Word will take precedence. For me it’s early a.m., but it doesn’t take much to get me off task.

Sound Words… unchangeable.

God’s Word does not change with time or circumstance. It says now what it said then. If God said it was wrong in David’s day, it’s still wrong in Shari’s day. Those who God loves, but is no less Holy because of them, can change God’s Word to read gender neutral, and say that a loving God will not judge them for their lifestyle, and mock the very holiness of God but it will not change fact. Sin is sin and will be judged as such. Praise Him that He does not change and that sin never becomes excusable. How unstable would we be if sin was discretionary?

That Good thing which was committed unto thee…

“That” is where the rubber meets the road. That is where God has said we are accountable for making sure His word gets delivered the way He intended. That is where a whole lot of people are going to be in trouble when they stand before God. “That” is what scares me when I sit before the teens in my teen class and deliver a message knowing that as a leader I’m going to be held accountable for how I handled that which was committed unto me. The Holy Ghost reveals truth to me. Nobody else will stand accountable for what I do with the Word of God, and I’ll not stand for anyone else. When it comes to that day we will stand before God on our own.

That Good thing is awesome. It is a balm that will soothe your injured heart, a rod that will chastise your indiscretion and a map that will lead you down the pathway to successful life. It’s soul food. Enjoy!

The Launching Point

Luke 5:1-4 ~ And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret,  And saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.

We were blessed with a long weekend in celebration of Labor Day, a fitting lead in to today’s blog. I love Sunday’s, it is the highlight of my week when I get to fellowship with Christian brothers and sisters, hear the word of God and receive that manna from Heaven that the world knows nothing of. But then comes Monday, or in this case Tuesday, when it’s time to launch back out into the world. I don’t always go willingly, sometime I complain to the Lord that I’d rather stay in the church! That’s my happy, happy, happy place. But the Lord said as clearly to me today as He did Simon, “Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for draught.

Simon had come in from a long night of fishing, he and his partners had been toiling (laboring) all night and caught nothing. He’d come in discouraged and tired; but not so tired that he didn’t have time to listen to the word of God. He’d take time for that! The people were pressing so hard against Christ (they desired the Word that much) that He asked Simon if He could use his boat to get away from the shore so the people could hear and see Him as He preached. It is my prayer that our congregations press the doors of the church that hard.

Christ preached the Word of God to those in the boat and out of the boat and then He turns to a tired fisherman and says, “Launch out into the deep again.” And although Peter was tired and told the Lord that there was nothing to be caught he obediently launched back out. And oh the blessing from his obedience.

Vs. 5-7 ~ And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink.

They caught so many fish that their nets broke and their ship began to sink! Peter was so astonished that he fell at the Lord’s feet and began repenting.

So it’s Tuesday. We’ve heard the Word of God, we even got an extra day to refresh ourselves, but Jesus has called us to get back to work. Not only doing what we do for a living but for Him as well. Christ used the very tools that Peter made his living by as an illustration of the ministry. Can He not do the same with our ships?

Vs. 8-11 ~ When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.

Where ever it is that we are today is the place that God has called us to labor. Our jobs, homes, meetings, etc. are the deep that Christ has ask us to launch ourselves into and let down the net to catch His fish and reel them in. The world is every bit as deep and dark as the vastness of the ocean and we are the vessels that God has chosen to use to see them saved.

So we’ve tried and failed, try again. Our efforts will not go unrewarded. He filled Peter’s boat, which had moments before been used as a pulpit, with more fish than he could have ever dreamt. He’ll do no less with an obedient servant today…

Launch!

It’s Game Day!

Acts 17:26-27 ~ And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:

The chatter on Facebook and other social media sites yesterday was abuzz with College Football comments, cheers and pics of fans sporting the colors and logos to the tune of millions of dollars in revenue for the teams. Postgame comments of the losing team fans left one wondering if they actually owned stock in the company. I guess technically they do with all the team merchandise they’ve bought. And then there’s Sunday. This is my game day! I’m every bit as excited about what is going transpire in a few hours on my home court as the fanatical collegiate sports nuts were yesterday. I’ve got my game face on! And my day will be spent without regret, foul language or poor sportsmanship. Go Team Jesus!

While there is but one Church, one body in Christ, there are many members of that body. And although some wear their denomination like a team jersey and feel that they have exclusive rights to the clubhouse God will disprove that theory one day when they’re shocked to discover who their neighbor in Heaven is. But while we live down here on earth we each have our perspective bounds of habitation. Those places of appointment that God has given us to serve in. For me it’s Victory Baptist Church in Grantsville, West Virginia; that’s home field. The place that I feel happy!

Why is it, perhaps you can explain it to me; that the same people who are screaming bloody murder for their home team yesterday can’t give a shout out to the Lord today, or (you’ll have to forgive me) can’t even get out of bed to go to their own home field? Why is it that people will spend hundreds of dollars on home team paraphernalia but feel it’s a burden to contribute to the ministry? I know, I’m likely preaching to the choir if you’re reading this, but I feel we all have something to learn from fanatical living.

If your place of worship does not have you in that happy place this morning you are either in the wrong place or your heart’s not in the game. When the preacher gets up in the pulpit this morning you should be cheering him on, (we should have prayed him in). He’s got the play book! Every word that comes out of his mouth has the potential to win the game for you if you’ll take it and run with it. Our game doesn’t end at noon either, it’s just starting when the church bell rings. It was the preacher’s game from eleven to noon (Or whatever your perspective services run). But now it’s time for you to hit the field. The great thing about Team Jesus is everyone has the opportunity to play, God’s got no favorites! That alone ought to put a shout on you. You don’t need any equipment other than the Word of God, and it’s better than a set of football pads, it’s a shield of armor and two edge sword. Our cheerleaders are a host of angels in Heaven that would likely deafen us if we could hear their shouts of joy! And the trophy you’re after … eternal life for that soul outside the stadium who’s in the game without a coach or protection from the opposing team. They don’t stand a chance if someone doesn’t defend them.

So… it’s game day, are you ready?