Sunday, August 31, 2014


Proverbs 10:4-5         A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. He who gathers in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame.

            Miss Smith, an elderly spinster, was the oldest resident of her Midwestern town on the day she died. In writing her obituary, the editor of the local newspaper became stumped after noting her age. Miss Smith had never spent a night in jail or been seen intoxicated on the streets. She also had never done anything noteworthy. While musing about what the might write, the editor went out for coffee and in the local cafĂ©, he met the owner of the tombstone company, who was equally perplexed as to what to write about Miss Smith.

            The editor returned to his office and assigned both the obituary and tombstone epitaph to the first reporter he saw, who happened to be the sports editor. If you pass through that little town, you’ll find this on Miss Smith’s tombstone:
                        Here lies the bones of Mildred Smith.
                        For her, life held no terrors.
                        She lived an old maid. She died an old maid.
                        No hits, no runs, no errors.
            If we don’t try, we don’t do…if we don’t do…we can’t bless others. We each have a contribution to make to the lives of others. Give your best effort today. It’s your best shot at scoring in the game of life.

Saturday, August 30, 2014


Proverbs 9:7-8            Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury. Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you.

When Charles Spurgeon was still a boy preacher, he was warned about a certain woman with a reputation for being extremely argumentative. He was told that she intended to give him a tongue-lashing the moment she saw him again.

Spurgeon said, “All right, but that’s a game two can play.”

Shortly thereafter she met him and began to assault him with a flood of verbal abuse. He simply smiled back at her and said, “Oh, yes, thank you. I am quite well. Thank you for asking. I hope you are the same.”

His remarks were followed by another tirade of know-it-all comments, this time voiced at a slightly higher volume. He responded again, smiling quietly, “Yes, it does look rather as if it might rain. I think I had better be getting along.”

“Bless that man!” the woman exclaimed and then concluded, “He’s as deaf as a door post. What’s the use of talking to him?”

Never again did she assault Spurgeon with her arguments. And never did he tell her what he had done. There’s no point in arguing with know-it-all people. Better to let them have their say and walk on. The only fool bigger than the person who knows it all is the person who argues with her.

Friday, August 29, 2014


Proverbs 7:1-5           My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you; keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye; bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and call insight your intimate friend, to keep you from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words.

You will see them on the streets of cities both large and small. From sunset till after midnight you can see then, standing on the corners, clustered at the entrances to bars, slipping into doorways of cheap hotels. Their dress is usually gaudy and tasteless; their cosmetics seem to have been applied with a spatula.

Prostitutes earn a living for themselves and their “managers” by selling their charms to anyone who can pay the price. There is nothing new about this occupation. They have been around for thousands of years, and will be here for a thousand more. They feed on the loneliness, boredom, lust and insecurity of their customers. They live on the fragility and uncertainty of the male ego. Their services to not seem to be waning.

They are to be pitied. They need to be saved from their eternal destiny. The subject reminds us of the importance for young people to live a chaste life. God has ordained marriage to one woman and has condemned as sin the actions of the sexually immoral. The subject should be discussed with young adult children in order to move into the light the thoughts and intentions that all too often remain in the dark recesses of their heart.

Thursday, August 28, 2014


Proverbs 6:2-3           If you are snared in the words of your mouth,    caught in the words of your mouth, then do this, my son, and save yourself for you have come into the hand of your neighbor: go, hasten, and plead urgently with your neighbor.

A woman in a fine luxury car waited patiently in a crowded mall parking lot for a place to park. She drove up and down between the rows until she finally saw a man with a load of packages headed for his car. She followed him and parked behind him, waiting while he loaded his packages in the trunk. Finally he got into the car and backed out.

Just as she was preparing to pull forward into the space, a young man in a small compact sports car – coming from the opposite direction – turned in front of her, zipped into the space, got out of his car, and started walking away.  The woman was livid. She shouted from her fine luxury car, “Hey, young man! I was waiting for that parking place.”

The teenager responded, “Sorry, lady, but that’s how it is when you’re young and quick.”

She instantly put her car into drive, hit the accelerator, and crashed into the rear end of the sports car, crushing its right rear fender into the trunk. Now it was the young man’s turn to jump up and down, shouting, “What are you doing? Are you crazy lady?”

The woman in the fine luxury car calmly responded, “Well, son, that’s how it is when you’re old and rich.”

Most of the world’s problems and conflicts could probably be resolved if, instead of retaliation and revenge, apologies were made all around. The best way to get the last word is to apologize, first!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Proverbs 5:3,6            For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil…. she does not ponder the path of life; her ways wander, and she does not know it.

The two greatest traps that lay in wait for the wise are the perils of unworthy company and unreliable words. A mark of the prudent Christian is to know these traps and how to avoid them. Nothing in our lives clouds our judgment more than succumbing to illicit passions. No matter how flattering the words of an immoral person are, they are totally unreliable.

The need for attention to this matter is urgent. The culture in America today promotes such sexual immorality among men and women, married or unmarried. Daily people must choose between the wisdom of our culture and that of God’s Word. To listen and heed the teachings of Scripture are to block out the voice of our immoral culture. Your refusal to listen and respond to her call will save you great pains.

To listen to her voice is to be poisoned by “wormwood” or bitterness. Her words cut us to our heart, severing the life we had from the immoral life she promotes. Following after her is to set yourself on a path that destroys both life and soul. To associate with her is to share in her disorientation in life. Together you and she will wander through life until death finds you both.

Beware of the immoral woman and the culture that she shares with others. What seems healthy and joyful quickly turns to sourness and disappointment. There is no turning back when you enter her door.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Proverbs 2:6-8      For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints.

We understand that wisdom is the merging of life experience and truth. When merged, wisdom comes forward to make sense of future experiences and truth. Wisdom is given from this process by God himself. For His people wisdom becomes the guide for making decisions and having good relationships. Only God gives divine wisdom. It is not created by you and I.

Once wisdom is given to us by God, He protects it for our use throughout our life time. His wisdom becomes a shield to protect us from the world and the foolishness that passes in the world as wisdom. God gives and God nurtures the wisdom planted within us.

We can take comfort in our lives in knowing that what God gives to us He also maintains. As His children his desire is for our nurture and growth. His wisdom is present for us to utilize in our day to day activities at home, work or play. Having His wisdom enables us to live in these circles with integrity of heart. We can live with a measure of peace and joy in knowing that God is overseeing, providing and protecting us by His wisdom within us. That is good news for the believer.

Monday, August 25, 2014


 Proverbs 1:1-4          The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel: To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth—

It is best to know what is in a book at the outset of reading it. This then helps us to understand the intent and direction that the writer is going when you read his words. Most books have a central message, a term paper has a central thesis and this book in the Bible called Proverbs also has a purpose. In these opening verses we see what the entire book is intended to do.

First we find it addressed to the “youth”. It is in the formative years of a young person’s life that wisdom is of greatest importance. If wisdom is exercised in the young adult years then many problems and disasters can be avoided. But it also true for the “young” child of God to know God’s wisdom as this person plots a new life course.

What kind of life have you been living?  Without God’s wisdom can you understand why or what in your life made you end up where you are today? Can you praise God for the course of your life and what good He has brought your way?

God has given us this wisdom through Solomon, the son of King David. God’s wisdom can prove itself true when we accept and apply it to our lives. It is His free gift to young people and the avenue to a relationship with God himself.

Sunday, August 24, 2014


Psalm 30:2-5          O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me. O Lord, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you restored me to life from among those who go down to the pit. Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is  but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

A psalm of remembrance

Knowing God in his worship experience has done great things for the psalmist. Human beings like to think in terms of up and down. At one moment we are down, depressed and low. At other times we speak of being up, on cloud-nine. Down denotes sorrow. Up denotes joy. Maybe this is why we think of heaven as being up there beyond the rainbow in the sky. Hell is down, down low beneath the surface of the earth.

The writer says that God has pulled him up out of misery into joy. Not saying from what place or situation he has been raised up from, he does say that the event brought him healing. His rescue was by God. He could have been sick or in prison, we do not know. For the writer there is no clear line between sickness of the body or sickness of the soul. Our God is the great Physician of all the body’s ailments.

            God never misses the trials and temptations we go through in life. He never gives us more than we are able physically and emotionally and spiritually to handle. In the midst of our trials we are expected to cry out to him. He hears and if we listen carefully we will know His response.

Saturday, August 23, 2014


Psalm  29:3-9            The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord, over many waters. The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty. The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon. He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox. The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire. The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness; the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh. The voice of the Lord makes the deer give birth and strips the forests bare, and in his temple all cry, “Glory!”
A psalm of kingship

Florida is the lightening capital of the world. More lightning strikes hit the ground here than anywhere else. The power of such strikes is immeasurable. The fact that people do survive such strikes is miraculous. They have come as close to God without dying as anyone. And to think God is more powerful than a lightning strike is beyond our ability to measure.

God is infinite. That means nothing about Him can be measured. If you start to take a yardstick to see how tall or wide He is, you would never come to the end of the yardstick. All of His attributes (love, forgiving, mercy, all powerful, all knowing, etc.) are infinite. If we measure the human capacity to love or to lift weights, we can never measure God’s abilities.

Read these verses again and marvel at our God. He is really beyond our fullest abilities to know him completely. Marvel at his concern for you, a speck of life in a seemingly endless universe.

           Because God is infinite, we can rest in His arms for He does care for you. “The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.”(vs. 11)

Friday, August 22, 2014


Psalm  27:7-9             Hear my voice when I call, O LORD; be merciful to me and answer me. My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, LORD, I will seek. Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper.

A psalm of confidence

Unless you wait on God to orchestrate your recovery, you will not experience the benefit of his power. You will receive the benefit of your own power; the same power that got you to where you are today.

It is a wise person who places his trust in someone more able and more equipped than himself. I would never try to fix a blown head gasket in my car. My skill is not with engines and mechanical things. If I tried to fix the problem I would create more work for myself and probably break something else in the process. If I were smart, I would find someone who is skilled at engine repair and can show me the proof of his ability.

When we have problems with addiction, anger, or people, who better to go to than someone who has fought these battles and has overcome them. If I really want to get these things fixed, I best find someone other than myself to help me. Wise counselors can inform us and guide us. They get help us see the work needed to find wholeness and recovery in life.

           God is ever present to help. He stands by our side as we struggle to fix the problem ourselves. He will wait on us. In time if we call out to Him he will respond. He is patient with us as we blindly try to fix that which only He can fix in us. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014


Psalm 3:5-6                I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me. I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.

A psalm of lament

           Trust in God does not exempt us from attack, ridicule or threats against us. David laments the pressure he feels from those who oppose him and those who would do him physical harm. We may not face the exact same threat to our physical body but we do feel the pressure of the world upon us each day. Life gets crazy and confusing leading to pressure upon us. Yet, trusting in God is a sure way to reduce the stress and to feel less of the world's impact upon us.

          We may lament our circumstances but God never forgets us. He does not sleep. Confidence in God’s presence in our time of need is a sustaining power in our life. Such confidence grows out of our ability to power out on God our daily cares. He has broad shoulders to take what we dump on Him. He wants to hear our laments. He is the source for lightening our load of cares and worldly pressures. David finds solace in his life situation because he pours out his concerns, frustrations and desires onto God’s feet.

            In this psalm, David reflects on the fact that he can sleep soundly knowing that God is there to protect and enable him to rise in the morning. It is surprising how many days we awaken and take for granted that we have a new day to enjoy. Working a hard day makes it easy to fall asleep. And when we awaken we first notice the aches and pains. Sadly we awaken and forget that the very dawn of this new day is a gift. God has seen us through another night.

            This psalm is rightly positioned at the beginning of the Psalms so that we are reminded of our first need. Daily we need to give God praise for the new day. Circumstances and people will change, but God remains our ever present companion. God never sleeps.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Remember This Teaching

Romans 16:17-18       I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.

As we close our month in the Book of Romans we are reminded to continue in the truth. The Word of God is truth. The commentaries and other Christian study books are not the Word of God. They are only books that people write to share their reflections and insights on God’s Word. For thousands of years Christians have written about the Bible and God’s work in the church from the beginning. We all have benefited from their writings.

But as we read, we are to mindful of such writing’s truthfulness and consistency with Scripture. If authors deviate from Biblical truth, we could be led astray. The more you read Scripture, the more the Holy Spirit will enlighten you. The more Christians you fellowship with and share reflections on Scripture, the more you will learn and be enlightened by the Holy Spirit. 

Be warned, too, that some will try to lead you astray with “new” insights from Scripture. Some may try to add or subtract from Scripture. The best defense is to reading Scripture and comparing other writings and sermons to what is in the Bible.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”     Hebrews 12:1-3

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Power Behind Our Work

Romans 15:18-19       I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done— by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit.

Much of what is accomplished at the mission with our clients is a miracle. I say this because the changes that occur in them are beyond what we offer clients. Food, clothing, shelter and life skill classes cannot change a heart. Bible studies that begin with the basics about Christ seem to be less than what a person should need to effect change in such a short period of time.

The reality is that God the Holy Spirit is at work in these men and women. They are led to us in a variety of ways and under circumstances that no human could orchestrate. Frail and frazzled they enter and begin to live among us. Confused and unsure about our staff and their surroundings they settle into the early days of the programs here.

But each hour that goes by the Holy Spirit is working within their minds and hearts. Change is comeing. The worst thing we can do is to discount God’s ability to heal and to change lives. When we take credit for anything that happens to them is to take from God. Our best defense and best counseling is to give God the credit for everything they receive here at the mission. The physical, mental and spiritual change is proof to the Holy Spirit’s presence and work. Giving him the glory gives the client the ongoing reminder that God is working in them. It causes them to ponder these words and the reality of the changes they are experiencing. Clients are now learning of the Person of Power behind the work we do and the work they do at the mission.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Competent To Counsel

Romans 15:14             I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another.

“Ministers of the gospel and other Christian workers who have been called by God to help his people out of their distress, will be encouraged to reassume their privileges and responsibilities… qualified Christian counselors properly trained in the Scriptures are competent to counsel – more competent than psychiatrists or anyone else.” (Pg.18)

 When dealing with the spiritual needs of people, the first question to ask: “Is the fundamental problem of persons who come for personal counseling sickness or sin?” (pg. 19) We live in a culture today that has distilled all human suffering down to a medical solution. This Medical Model approach really fosters personal helplessness, hopelessness and irresponsibility. This approach says: “If a person’s problems in living are basically problems of disease and sickness rather than problems of behavior, he has no hope unless there is medicine or therapy which can be applied to his case. Since there is no medical cure for people in such trouble, they move from despair to deeper despair.” (pg.7)

Counseling is the work of the Holy Spirit and cannot be effectively done without Him. Unsaved counselors do not know Him and ignore His work in the counseling process. All holiness and change stems from His activity in people’s lives. All the goals for growth (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control) God declares to be the “fruit” of the Holy Spirit. It is futile to attempt to generate these qualities apart from Him. By-passing the Spirit amounts to a denial of human depravity and the affirmation of man’s innate goodness.

The Holy Spirit is the source of all genuine personality changes. He ordinarily effects his character changes through the means of grace. He uses the ministry of the Word, the sacraments, prayer and the fellowship of God’s people as his principal means of change. He also works in conjunction with the proper exercise of the gifts given to the counselor, you.

Quotations from: Competent to Counsel, Jay E. Adams

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Weak And Strong Faith

Romans 14:1-4           Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant?

Paul has in mind here the meat of animals that were being sacrificed to pagan gods and idols. You see, these animals were sacrificed to a god and the meat was then shared with the priests and worshippers as food. The benefit of the sacrifice to appease the god was made beneficial to the person when they ate the meat of the sacrifice. In Paul’s day, the Jews followed the sacrificial laws of the Old Testament. The pagan worshippers offered similar sacrifices to their gods.

Paul knew that this practice, both the Jewish and pagan, was meaningless. It was meaningless for the Jews because Jesus was the final sacrifice for sin. His sacrifice was made beneficial to the believer by faith in Him and by sharing in the Lord’s Supper, a sacrament we continue today. The sacrifice was meaningless for pagans because there is no god other than Jehovah. The meat offered to these non-existent gods meant nothing. In both cases if a Christian ate the meat there would really be no consequence. It was merely cooked meat, unless of course the one who ate it believed the meat still retained some special meaning.

Christianity is not about what we eat or do not eat. It is not about what we wear or do not wear. It is not about what we watch or do not watch on TV. Christianity is about our faith, trust and relationship to Jesus. That relationship determines all the other activities and prohibitions in our daily lives. Some may eat the meat and some may not. Either way we are not to judge the other person by their activity. Nor should we brag about the freedom we have to other brothers or sisters. We should be silent on some matters and be settled in our opinion with God. His acceptance should govern our actions, not other people.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Submit To Authority

Romans 13:1               Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.

I scare myself sometimes. I do not like wearing a seat belt. For several years after that became the law, I drove my car and never put it on. I do not like driving at the speed limit. I prefer to go as fast as I can when driving, unless of course there are too many other cars on the road and I must drive slower. I like to complain about the laws that our government create because they do not make sense to me, they seem quite unpractical and self-serving. I liked to skip class when I was in school because the teacher was boring and I had more fun with my friends. I could go on, but you get the message. Your list is probably similar to mine, isn’t it? Oh, I almost forgot, I don’t particularly like this chapter in Romans, either.

I have learned over the years the truth about this passage. I learned it the hard way of course. Every time I bucked the system or disobeyed the law I was rewarded. I got my license suspended for too many speeding tickets. I got suspended from school for skipping classes. I got thrown in jail for selling illegal drugs. I complained to my teachers about their style of teaching and received added homework and detention. I got a ticket for not wearing the seat belt.  I could do everything my way and I did. I also got everything that was due me by my disobedience to authority.

Christians can be no different than unbelievers when it comes to authority. But we should know better. Like the law of physics states: every action has an equal and opposite reaction. You and I can never go against gravity. Jump off a building and you will never soar away up into the clouds. No matter how much you want to soar, you will always fall to the ground. God has ordained gravity to always bring you down.

All authority is from God. The authorities in the home, mom and dad, your boss at work, the police, the judges, the federal government are all authorities ordained by God to act on His behalf. Like gravity, when you fight them you will always and eventually get the reward that disobedience promises. Really, it’s true. I know because I spent years bucking them all. Not anymore.     

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Practical Worship

Romans 12:1               Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.

Once a week, Sundays, Christians attend church to worship God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Prayer, hymns, readings and sermons make up most Christian worship services. Musical instruments, big projection screens, microphones, ushers, offerings and testimonies also can be found in our worship times. Some groups are in and out in an hour. Others worship for hours, stopping when they have depleted all their emotional, physical and mental energies. They get back in their cars and go home. They return a week later and do it again. This is our traditional understanding of worship.

Paul takes worship out of the building on Sunday and gives us permission to worship God each day. Our daily lives are to be filled with worship. Giving to the needs of a stranger is worship. Sharing words of encouragement to someone who is confined to a hospital bed is worship. Enjoying a sunrise or sunset and giving your thoughts to God in appreciation for His creation is worship. Loving your wife and children each day is worship. Waiting patiently in line at the check-out counter while an older woman struggles to find her change purse is worship. Giving of your professional skills toward the education of troubled young men or women at a homeless shelter is worship. Speaking truthfully in love to others is worship. Letting others have their way in a heated discussion is worship.

Doing all things to the glory of God is our practical, daily worship. May you see your day to day lives as more than a routine. I pray you see it as your moment to moment practical worship of God.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

How Can They Be Saved?

Romans 11:23             And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.

The passage before us is one of hope. Hope that the Jews of our day will not persist in their unbelief towards Jesus Christ as God’s Son, the Messiah of Old Testament prophecy. Paul looks forward to the day when they would change their minds and embrace Christ.

Although unbelief separates people from God, it is equally true that faith is the bond that unites people to Him. God is slow to respond to unbelief. Slow because He wants all people to have the opportunity to hear of Jesus Christ. He is slow so that others may be aroused to envy our life as it reflects the true faith and trust in God’s Son. People who do not believe in Christ choose to not believe. They find the story, the promises and the “coincidences” surrounding his life, death and resurrection too much to believe. They cannot fathom in their minds the reality of what the Bible teaches. Unbelief is their only response. Their minds are fixed on the scientific nature of what can be and what cannot be. They need proof.

Faith is not scientifically based. It cannot be proven by measuring or assessing the facts. Faith is defined as “the substance of things hoped for and the certainty of things not seen”. To expect the truths of Scripture to be scientifically or even rationally proven is to expect what can never be. Faith is, by its nature, something not seen but is hoped for.

So the question we are left with is how anyone can believe the Gospel? This is the stumbling point for anyone who does not believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the Savior of mankind. The Jews of long ago tripped on this. The unbelieving world today trips at this point. So who can believe? How does someone believe?

Because Jesus lives forever, he is able to save completely those who come to God through him. He always lives to intercede for you. All things are possible with God, because He is able.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Only Sinners Are Restored

Romans 6:23               For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Jesus once faced off with an angry group of teachers and Pharisees (John 8: 1-11) who were about to stone an adulterous woman. Jesus said to them that whoever was without sin should be the first to throw a stone at her. He did not say that the one who was without the sin of adultery should throw the stone. Jesus implied that unless someone was completely free from sin, he or she could not take it upon themselves to judge another.

The Pharisees and teachers of the law were good at throwing stones of moral judgment against other Jews and Gentiles. They presumed that their having the Law of Moses at their disposal qualified them to pronounce judgment and execute the penalty. Paul has explained that all mankind are sinners (Romans 3:23) and rightfully due punishment from God for their sins.

How, then, are Christians different from non-Christians? The difference is in this verse. Christians have accepted to receive the free gift of God’s forgiveness. The penalty for our sins has been forgiven us because of Jesus’ death on the cross. He bore our punishment. Christians live life believing they are forgiven. Their faith is in Christ and His sacrifice for their punishment. Faith in Christ brings them freedom from the future penalty and the temporal guilt of sin. Christians live their lives in ways that please God and avoid sin.

Many people avoid Christianity and Christians. They do not want a close relationship with God because they feel unworthy. They think that God is only interested in “good” people. Some will consider approaching God after they have cleaned themselves up. These people fail to understand that all people sin and are equally guilty before God. All of us are in need of His mercy. They fail to realize that only sinners can come to Christ. He expects us to come to Him as we are lost but, in His eyes, worthy of being restored.

Monday, August 11, 2014

A Sign Of Inner Cleansing

Romans 4:9b-11a       We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! And he received circumcision as a sign, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised.

The covenant that Abraham had with God was symbolized by circumcision. This physical change to his body was a constant reminder to Abraham of God’s covenant promise to him and to his descendants. Father children would entail trust in God to bring about the fulfillment of the covenant promises. He is also reminded that all he has and all he could hope for in the future were dependent upon God. He would now submit himself to God as His servant. It was now his duty to “father” a spiritual family who trusted themselves also into the hands of God.

The Church has many rites or practices that are merely outward symbols of what God has accomplished inside his people. The early Jewish Christians demanded that the Gentile Christians be circumcised to satisfy the Jewish law. Today, we too spend much time arguing over outer signs rather than focusing on the inner changes. The mode of baptism, the proper elements for communion, should prayers be offered when kneeling or standing, should hands be lifted in praising God, which bible translation is to be used and other issues seem to monopolize much of our time.

The outer practices do not change us. They are, however, reflective of the person who has changed by God’s intervention in their persons. No amount of Church activity or displays of piety will save a person’s soul. No amount of water can wash away your sins. No amount of hours sacrificed to volunteering at a local club, community dinner or church will earn you God’s forgiveness. Only the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ can cleanse us and bring restoration to our relationship with God. Only the presence of the Holy Spirit in us will bring about the inner heart and soul change that will bring us into conformity with God’s will for our lives.

Stop putting your efforts into outward rituals or righteous activities. Start by placing your hope and heart in the hands of Jesus Christ, the only One with the power for your inner change and outward transformation.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Credit For Good Believing

Romans 4:3     What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

Abraham was not a Jew or Israelite when he obeyed God’s call to leave his homeland of Ur. He was not a man of great accomplishment, nothing in Scripture shows him having done anything special prior to God’s call. He was a man like any other of his day but with one exception. He was a man willing to believe God and obey His leading.

Abraham was accepted as righteous by God because of his faith in God. His acceptance by God implied that he was upright, good and clean in God’s eyes, despite the occasions in Scripture where he is seen to have sinned. His life was not perfect in any way. He was not a great moral or spiritual person. Only because he heard God and obeyed God do we see that God credited to him as righteousness.

How often do we compete with other Christians to be the most pious, orthodox or pastoral? These small attempts are to create a righteousness that is not of God but of man. God sees through these efforts and turns the other way. The righteousness that he declares for us is based on the same standard that He used for Abraham. He sees us as we really are and is not fooled by our performances.

As we submit ourselves to God’s commandments we find our lives changing. Our spiritual development is not something we create for ourselves but is something God works in us to conform to His Son. The Holy Spirit, Christ in us, brings true change to our hearts and minds. Already righteous by God’s decree in us, we should boast in God’s loving goodness and glorify Him for what he has done in spite of us.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Born From Within

Romans 2:29               No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God.

The director of the Jews For Jesus evangelistic organization, Moishe Rosen, always enjoyed using humor to make a point about religious truth. He has said that being raised in the church does not make you a Christian any more than being raised in a bakery makes you a bagel. Paul says to the Jews that being raised under the law and being circumcised in the body does not make you a child of God.

            Our relationship to God is not based on external signs or appearances. God can go beyond the outside appearances and turn us inside-out, bearing our hearts, souls and innermost thoughts. In these places God can see our real relationship to Him.

            Circumcision was a sign of obedience for the Jew. It was a permanent mark which separated Him from the rest of the world. But God doesn’t want just our bodies marked and set apart. He wants our hearts, our souls, our minds and our lives marked and changed by his Holy Spirit’s presence.

            People joke about blurting our embarrassing tales under the influence of “truth serum”. Imagine the horror of having ALL your thoughts and the truth about ALL your actions poured out to the public. We would be horrified at such an occurrence. Yet, day in and day out we fail to realize that God sees them daily. That is why He wants to change us inside first so that our inner most nature might be healed and our outward actions would begin to reflect His Son.

Friday, August 8, 2014

What's In A Name?

Romans 2:22-24         You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

“One Sunday morning several years ago a woman stopped on her way out of church and said, “Don’t ever forget that you are the best person that someone knows.” My immediate response was to feel great pity for that one person who had such a group of friends that I would rate as the best. But that woman’s statement comes back to me often as I realize that my witness to Christ, be it good or bad, may be the only witness that some person receives.”

Paul criticized the Jews because their disregard for the law of God caused non-Jews to reject their God. The same accusation can be leveled at many Christians today. We do not choose whether we will be ambassadors for Christ or not. WE ARE His witnesses in the world whether we choose to be or not. The only question is whether we will be faithful witnesses or poor witnesses.

So long as we bear the name Christian, others will judge Christ by our lives. If our lives do not reflect God’s love, our words will be of no use. Alexander the Great despised cowardice and honored bravery. When a young soldier was brought before him charged with cowardly desertion, Alexander asked him his name. The boy replied “Alexander, sir.” The military leader was enraged and said to the boy, “Change your life, or change your name.”

We bear the name of Christ. Do our lives live up to that name? Will those who see you in action see God’s love in action and be drawn to Him? Christian, change your life or change your name. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Our Worst Enemy

 Romans 1:28, 32          Just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done…  Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

Two men shared a hospital room. One suffered from advanced lung disease and knew that smoking would kill him. The other had a liver disorder and knew that alcohol would surely kill him. Each bribed employees to smuggle in liquor and cigarettes and gloated over their cleverness. Why?

A woman had an abortion and had to undergo months of mental therapy because of the resulting guilt and depression. Six months later she went back for another abortion. Why?

Two men hung on crosses beside Jesus. Both men knew about Him but while one begged for mercy, the other ridiculed Jesus and went to his death bearing the guilt of his own sins. Why?

The cases above are the same. They are cases of people committing suicide physically, emotionally and spiritually. Why? Why do we do what we know will lead to certain death and unhappiness? Simply this: we want to be our own gods and rule our own lives, even though we know that it will kill us.

The tendency to put “me” first and God last is the basis of sin. The wages of sin is death. What a logical statement that is when we see that only God can give and sustain life. If we abandon God and try to run our lives ourselves, we will die.

It wouldn’t do me any good to own a private je because I don’t know how to fly it, and would kill myself in the attempt. So also with our lives: we want to pilot our self, but we don’t know how, and we die in the attempt. We are our own worst enemy!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Without Excuse

Romans 1:20     For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities —his eternal power and divine nature— have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

There is no way to “prove” that God exists nor can we prove that “love” exists. We can define love by watching particular activities that reveal the nature of love. Love is seen by love in action. The same is true of God. We can learn much of Him by seeing Him in action as Creator and Sustainer of the universe. We can hear his voice in the Words of Scripture. Viewing the world and reading Scripture help us to see the nature of God and His actions. In this way we can know He exists.

Paul says to his readers in Rome and today that the entire universe and created world testify to the power and the deity of God. The creation of   the universe and life forms by random chance is beyond all odds. The spontaneous creation of intelligent life from nothing is at odds with the testimony of Scripture. It seems to be a more unbelievable theory than that of a divine being creating all from nothing.

You probably have heard this story of missionaries who reached a little known tribe in a remote part of the world.  After making friends with the primitive peoples they began to share the Gospel with them. As they told the story some of the natives began to weep loudly. They said to the missionaries, “We knew from the goodness of creation and from the yearnings of our hearts that such a man had to exist, but we didn’t know his name.” God reveals Himself mightily in His own handiwork and places a hunger in every human heart to know Him.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Do Not Be Ashamed

Romans 1:14-16a       I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel.

Paul’s labor was not inspired by those to whom he was sent, but by his abiding sense of the divine obligation which rested on him. Opposition did not deter him. He knew that all men everywhere needed the gospel.
I often speak at civic clubs, business luncheons, churches and other social service organizations. My invitation is to tell about our programs and services at Jericho Road Ministries. The people in attendance cover a broad segment of our community. There have been doctors, retirees, students, nurses, psychologists, teachers, craftsmen, rabbis, lawyers, etc.   
The audiences respond in three ways. Some of the people are indifferent to my discussion. The subject of helping homeless people or providing opportunities to released inmates is not of much interest to them. Their eyes glaze over and they remain courteous and quiet during my talks.
Other people are hostile. They are service providers who address the physical or mental needs of the poor or homeless. They are upset by my discussion of providing services in Jesus’ Name. They find religious talk or faith in Christ an awful means for providing relief. To them, people need “professional” attention. They have voiced their dislike for my witness.

The mission of Jericho Road Ministries is to lovingly proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ to the economically, emotionally and spiritually impoverished. When the opportunity arises I explain what this means, wherever I speak. God always provides people in the audience who listen attentively, nod their heads in agreement and bring words of encouragement when I have finished. They are not ashamed of the gospel either.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Be Diligent Always

Nehemiah 13:4-5        Eliashib the priest had been put in charge of the storerooms of the house of our God. He was closely associated with Tobiah, and he had provided him with a large room formerly used to store the grain offerings and incense and temple articles, and also the tithes of grain, new wine and olive oil prescribed for the Levites, musicians and gatekeepers, as well as the contributions for the priests.   

We have come to the end of the Book of Nehemiah. We also have come back again to a recurring theme. That theme is that whenever the people of God strayed from the Law of Moses they fall into unfaithful, disobedient and sinful behavior. It happens again. Nehemiah takes action and disaster is avoided.

Eliashib the priest had been placed in charge of the supplies for the Temple worship system. Like many other worship leaders he was guilty of having intermarried with the surrounding nations. (Ezra 10:24)  He had confessed this sin earlier and maintained is place in the community. But now we find that he had allowed Tobiah the Ammonite to take up residence within the Temple of God. This was a violation of the Law of Moses and indicative of Eliashib’s sincerity and integrity as a leader of God’s people.

Nehemiah finds out about this in Babylon where he had traveled to meet with the King. Hearing this news, he again asks permission of Artaxerxes to return to handle the matter. God’s work was a priority. Returning he quickly throws out Tobiah and has the other priests purify the entire store room of this defilement.

Is God’s Word a priority in your life and development as a person of integrity?  Many of the troubles we face and sins we commit result from our preoccupation with the priorities the world sets for us. Like Nehemiah, we must submit to the authorities of the world but also be actively willing to do as God commands for his glory and our spiritual development.

May we learn the importance of responding quickly to temptation or  sin.  God will provide us the means and the way out of such life situations. We need only to ask his help and pray His will is done in our lives. Be diligent in becoming the man or woman of Godly integrity.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Workers Rejoice

Nehemiah 12:42-43                The choirs sang under the direction of Jezrahiah. And on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away.

The people of God gathered together around the city to rejoice and praise God. The wall was completed, the Temple was functioning and the people rejoiced. Offering were brought to God from the joyful people. Jerusalem’s wall was a symbol of salvation and her gates of praise.

I am reminded of the two offerings listed in Hebrews 13:15-16:

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”

These two offerings should never be divorced. Thanksgiving goes up to God from worshipers with grateful hearts. Thankful that Christ has gathered them to himself, has washed them clean and has anointed them with His Holy Spirit.

The second offering is of giving. It flows outward to other people. The practical expression of our thankfulness to God is in our extending the same grace, love and mercy to the least and the lost among us each day. Giving tithes to the work of the church is on equal footing with giving tithes to the poor, needy and helpless. God has entrusted us with the wealth that we have and expects that we use it to extend his care, love and mercy to others.

Remember, God loves a cheerful giver. Rejoice, worker, rejoice.

Ministry Scenes

Have The Homeless Become Invisible?