Archive for the ‘Devotions’ Category

Then the LORD said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation.”

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Ge 7:1).

At this point in the scriptures only Noah is seen as righteous in God’s eyes, yet all that come into the protection of Noah’s ark, all that are ALLOWED in by God, are saved with Noah. Noah is most definitely a TYPE of Christ figure. In other words, Noah like so many others in the Old Testament, lived out their lives, even in the midst of their human failures and sin, pointing to one who would succeed where they failed.  The reality of the Old Testament is that all of the great people and their stories that fill those pages were looking for One who wouldn’t fail but rather One who would fulfill.  They were looking for Christ.

Noah’s salvation though great is only temporary, for ultimately all humanity will die.  Noah’s righteousness though beneficial is only temporary, for ultimately he fails, as do all other men throughout biblical history.  We read of the righteousness of Noah, and the salvation that God worked through Noah, but when we read…the rest of the story of Noah we realize that ultimately Noah falls short, he sins, yes, but also he dies!  And though Noah’s salvation through the flood saves himself and his family, that salvation is not sufficient for me, or for you today.

Only Christ is sinless, only Christ is sufficient, and only Christ’s righteousness can save us eternally.  Yes Noah is seen as righteous in Gods eyes, and all that come into the protection of Noah’s ark are saved with Him. Noah is a type of Christ figure. If Noah saved those in the Ark with him and those alone, and yet they all still died…how much more will we be saved eternally from death and from eternal judgment through the righteousness found in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Look to Christ alone, trust in Christ alone.

Study to know Him.


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Let sinners be consumed from the earth,
and let the wicked be no more!
Bless the LORD, O my soul!
Praise the LORD!

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Ps 104:35). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

ImageIn all this Psalm, the greatness, majesty and power of God is displayed (in Creation) not the invisible heaven which we cannot see. God does what he does so that we can SEE his invisible attributes, and more importantly his supremacy, and we can choose to obey as ALL of creation obeys.

However, no other creation has the ability like we do to see and understand Gods beauty and the fact that we are his crowning creation.

Will I choose today to sing praises to God while I have being? Will my meditation be pleasing to God? Will I rejoice in the LORD?

Because God goes to such great lengths to demonstrate his Love to us, God is just in that he hates sinners! That is why Jesus died so that we might be reconciled to Him, enemies (hated) no more. God’s wrath poured out on Jesus is sufficient to cover the sins of those who find forgiveness in Christ. The day is coming when those who stand outside of Jesus’ righteousness, the wicked, will be consumed. And God’s hatred of sin, and those who embrace it will be punished for all eternity.

Without a doubt God hates sinners–in our sin we are enemies of God. In Christ we are adopted sons and daughters, enemies no more. Why would we not tell our family, our friends, even our enemies that they need Jesus? God forgive me when I in my sin, neglect the opportunity to tell someone the good news.

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“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15  (KJV)

I really like that Title, Study! So do lots and lots of other Bible students.  Awana’s programs all around the world, quote this verse weekly, a quick perusal of the Internet shows most people who site this verse keep the KJV rendering of the word Study, even if they change out all the Old English verbiage.  Only problem is that it is incorrect.  Sure if you have a King James Version Bible, you will see that word, Study! in 2 Timothy 2:15 (Won’t find it in any other version today!).  However, after some lengthy study on the use of this word throughout history and the Bible, a better and more accurate interpretation would be, Be diligent! or Make every effort! the TDNT even makes the statement, “Any attempt to construe σπουδή as “study” or “teaching” is to be resisted. There is too little support for this in Greek (and especially contemporary) usage.” So why is it there?  Not sure…Maybe we could ask King Jimmy!

This word is an Imperative, it’s a command!!!  And then it is followed by this phrase which reveals why Paul is telling Timothy to Be diligent…to present yourself approved. But not to man, rather to God. I think we all can agree that we, especially me as a pastor often work very diligently to show ourselves approved to those in the congregation of the church.  But Paul makes it clear we are to be diligent, make every effort, to present ourselves approved to God.  Interesting how important this adjective approved, really is when we understand who it points us to.  We can and often do look really good, and quite easily I might add, in man’s eyes.  Today in this attention starved culture that feeds more and more off of self validation this just isn’t too hard to do!

But Paul goes on to feed us a little more detail about what we are to be diligent about, “a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” We are to be like “one who has caused no disgrace to God,” unashamed before the face of God, specifically in how we “handle rightly” the very word or words of God.  The Greek word used here is where we get our term ortho as in ortho-dontist.  It simply means to make straight (cf., Pr. 3:6).  Furthermore,  it is in the Present Active so for Paul he is telling Timothy, “Be diligent, make every effort to keep straight the word of truth as you study and then teach.  And in doing so you will not dishonor God, regardless what man thinks.” The context prior to and especially after this passage helps us understand that there is a tendency to get off course if we are not cautious and don’t remember what we have been taught and learned.

Precisely, Paul goes on to tell Timothy in v. 18, ”Hymenaeus and Philetus… have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. Paul shows Timothy and us what a lack of diligence and study will lead to…making crooked the straight, perverting that which is absolute truth.

So all of this exegesis to get to this point…I have heard so many Christian laity make comments about how further and or even some theological training is of little to no value for men who are called to be pastors.  The reasons are varied and span the whole field of pastoral work.  Things like, “Seminary will just fill your mind with so much theology that you become difficult to understand in the pulpit.” Or, “learning all those biblical languages just keeps you from being relevant to us simple folk in the pew.” These vocalizations have become so loud and prolific that often those called into the ministry both young and old seem to struggle to hear clearly the call of God to seek wisdom and knowledge from Professor’s and teachers who have dedicated their lives to their respected studies and who now fill our six conservative Southern Baptist Seminaries.

Think about this…Why is it demanded that the person about to cut into our heart or our brain, to perform surgery in an attempt to SAVE our life, have as much schooling, training and internship as can possibly be done by one man or woman? Then they have to go back year after year and do continuing education so they can continue to seek to save lives, even though they still fail from time to time and people die.

But in our culture today it is absolutely OK that a pastor not have much more than passing knowledge of the Bible and then be allowed to stand in the pulpit, and be expected to proclaim with all Wisdom (Col. 1:28) and all Authority (Ti. 2:15) the very Gospel of Jesus Christ. Wielding the Word of God, which is sharper than any two edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow (Heb. 4:12). That which ALONE is the power of God for Salvation (Rm 1:16). That which when heard and believed will ALWAYS SAVE souls from an eternity separated from the Love of God.

Interesting perspective isn’t it!  I grow tired of listening to those who choose of their own free will to neglect the deeper knowledge of God.  Knowledge which only comes through study and effort, time spent in the Bible, yet they push their shallow mentality of what they believe a pastor should be upon those seeking to follow God’s call.  If you are reading this and contemplating God’s call in your life to vocational ministry, and if God is opening doors for you to go to seminary, Go! At least start walking and God will direct and guide.  I struggle to ever understand why God would say No to someone seeking to know more about Him. Often times I don’t think it is God saying NO! Rather, I think it is man thinking about all the sacrifices he will have to make, and then once his judgment is good and clouded by doubt, that man says no…the costs are just too much.

I write all this in response to a Facebook post by a godly and devoted Christian brother of mine confronted with this very situation.  So I close with this, I love you Brother…and I know you are an intelligent and capable pastor today and  I would love to be a fraction of what you are in the pulpit, but I look at theological training as, we can ALWAYS be better, rather than it will make me too smart to be a good preacher!  I mean, come on…it’s only Eternity that’s at stake, right?

Study to know Him,

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Logos Software

Logos Software

Let me start this post by saying, I am not addicted to Facebook, I am just adamantly committed to friendships!  There, makes it kind of hard to refute that argument, doesn’t it.  Today I was reading through status updates and Logos Bible Software posted their Great Bible Giveaway premium Bible winners for the month of August.  I’m thinking, how awesome that Logos would give away such expensive resources.  Logos by the way is completely committed to providing, for those willing to study God’s word, electronic resources which are invaluable.  Using tools such as Logos we can study God’s word to depth’s never even dreamed of decades or centuries ago, and do so with accuracy and speed our forefathers would love to have had.

Anyway, as I was reading their updates I noticed a post by a gentleman condemning Logos and others for their apparent gluttony over the production and distribution of these “extravagant” Bibles.  His words were, and I quote, “whenever I see a Bible priced over $50 and advertised as “premium”, the Scriptures prohibiting gluttony immediately come to mind. N.Korean Christians use hand-written scripture on balloons floated in from VOM workers, yet publishers crank out these ridiculously extravagant Bibles? How is God honored by this excess I wonder?”

Now, I applaud this individual for his perspective.  His apparent purpose is to seek to answer this question; Are we in our extravagance here in America neglecting those in countries where God’s written word is not allowed? My hope is that he will not simply ask the question, like most people do, and never struggle through to an answer, but in his own heart and mind will evaluate his life and seek to answer for himself how he can best fulfill this need to spread the truth of God’s word to these very people!  Well this is the purpose for my post, I too want to seek to answer the question, and what remains here in this post is a beginning…

First off, I applaud Logos for seeking to put into people’s hands the resources needed to help us study God’s word. So that we can seek to fulfill the words found in them. Passages like Romans 10:14-17 comes quickly to mind.  

14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him uof whom they have never heard?3 And how are they to hear vwithout someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent?

u Eph. 4:21; [John 9:36; 17:20]
3 Or him whom they have never heard
v [Acts 8:31; Titus 1:3]
The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Ro 10:14-15). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

(The scripture and its footnotes are possible thanks to Logos Bible Software)

Regardless of the cost of a Bible, the thing each and everyone of us will have to answer for one day is what we did with what God blessed us with! Reminds me of Jesus’ parable in Luke 12:48 when he says concerning these servants who were given care of the Master’s house, “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required.”

Be careful condemning God’s provision of his written word to us, and be more concerned about how to use this provision to bless the billions who are lost and dying, who even if they had the word, might be like the Ethiopian Eunuch who though reading the Scriptures himself needed someone to guide him. Acts 8:31 (The Eunuch needed someone to lead him, instruct him, someone who was knowledgeable).  In other words God sent Philip because Philip most definitely knew the way!  God’s word is best understood by those who have been blessed to sit under and study under those who know the way.  Hence God’s OT command to the Father’s, “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deut 6:7

One closing thought, which I struggle with in my own life at times.  People complain about the “extravagant” packaging of God’s precious words to us in leather and ink, yet they claim to have the very precious living word of Christ in them, and they could care less what its packaging–how they live, talk and act–looks like to the world around them.  Now that is a waste!

11 Command and teach these things. 12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 1 Timothy 4:11-12

Study to know Him,

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sanctity-of-lifeMy prayer for all of those who might read this is that as we walk through our day tomorrow we might have a better perspective on the life we have been given and the life we are able to live because our parents chose life for us. More importantly, I also believe that we are absolutely unable to fully understand the blessing of the life we live today, unless we understand the TRUE Life that we are offered through Jesus Christ, God’s only Son.

1 John 5:12-13 tells us, “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.”

Make no mistake Scripture teaches plainly that without the Son (Jesus Christ) we are like Dead men walking.  We look alive and well as we live out our days here in this world, but death is coming…last I checked the mortality rate of humanity was still at 100%.  Once we breath our last in this life, the grave is not the end.  If so scripture would be lying to us and eternal life is just a dream.  Each and every one of us have one opportunity to get it right in this life and from the point of conception we begin dying.  In other words our days are numbered and there is so much work to get done, in such a short amount of time.

Time is short, I know it seems like we have eternity when we are young–er, but James reminds us that this life, well it is just a vapor, a mist that is here and gone in an instant.  Even Solomon, the wisest man this world has ever known tells us this life is but a shadow.  My point is that many of us believe we have all the time in the world to get eternity, and that kind of gamble…well its like grabbing for fog…it sure looks good, but it is impossible to grasp.

Many of those who will fill the pews in churches across America this Sunday are living this kind of life.  They want True Life, they want the assurance of eternity, but they don’t want to pay the price that God requires.  Oh Oh…”pay the price…”  that can’t be…My Bible tells me eternal life is a free gift!  All I have to do is pray this little prayer, walk down to the front of the church and sign a card, and “poof” I’m good to go!  I like that kind of salvation!  Doesn’t cost me anything, and just like the Good Book says, its free.

Well, your right, it is free.  As a matter of fact Paul used those words “free gift” 12 times in Romans.  Romans 6:23 which most of us know and can quote freely tells us, “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of  God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Maybe scripture can explain what I mean by “those who are not willing to pay the price God requires…”

John 5:39-40 says, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.”

Jesus’ words should wake us up out of our complacency and sleep!  Oh we will go to church on Sunday, we will sing the songs and we will drop some money in the offering plate and somehow feel satisfied as we struggle to concentrate as the pastor drones on, silently anticipating lunch, and who we will go eat with, or who might ask us to go eat with them.  Then we will leave the church, and silently return to the life we choose to live, not the life God desires for us to live.  The entire book of Amos has a sad commentary on this very kind of lifestyle.

The Northern Kingdom truly believed that just because they went to “Bethel” (House of God) and sang songs, and offered sacrifices to God that he was pleased with them, and furthermore that he had to be pleased with them because they were Hebrews, and therefore God would never destroy them.  Oh how horribly wrong they were.  God so despised what they called “Service” because what they were doing on “Sunday” looked nothing like what they were doing every other day of the week!  As a matter of fact, by the time we get to Hosea, less than 30 years later, their place of worship is no longer called Bethel, but instead the prophet calls it “Beth-aven” or (House of vanity, house of nothing).

True “Service,” true “Worship” is living a life of holiness and godliness Monday through Saturday, not just Sunday morning from 11:00-12:00.  That is what “Sanctity” really means.  Sanctity of Life therefore is choosing to live a life of “holy character” every day. But just like Amos, John 5:39-40 paints a vivid picture of the failure of so many today who profess to be Christians.  You search the Scriptures because you think in doing it, that it makes you a Christian…“yet You refuse to come to me…”

You see the price that is required?  Yes grace exists for us when we fail, and all of us will fall from time to time.  No one is perfect in this life.  But think about this, if you fall, make sure that you fall looking at the face of Him who died so that you might live.  Falling forward into the arms of Christ, well it happens from time to time.  Falling backwards away from Christ, because we were looking at the world behind us, well that is not good.  Hebrews 12:2 tells us we can live a Sanctified Life if we “fix our eyes on Jesus…”

I urge you this week as you seek to live out your Christian faith, Fix your eyes on Jesus and him alone, because he paid the price required to purchase you out of death,  and then do pick up your Bible and read.  John tells us one last time why we need to read God’s words…

John 20:31  “but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

Study to know Him,

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Leave No Trace?

Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace

Well it is October and for a group of men from South Side Baptist Church in Abilene, Texas this always means it is time for the annual Fly-Fishing trip to the incredible San Juan river in New Mexico.  Since 2004 this trip for me has become so much more anticipated because I no longer live in Abilene, nor am I able to fellowship every week with the men of this church.  So, this annual event gives me the blessed opportunity to hang out with godly men for seven days as we camp out, eat incredible meals every evening (thanks guys) fellowship through deep discipleship around the campfire, and of course…FISH!

The San Juan river in NM is well known as one of the premier trout tail waters in the western half of America for its consistently cold water and enormous numbers of large trout.  What a great place for guys who are desiring to learn the art fly-fishing to go and catch their first trout.

This year I am trying something new. I bought Simms carbide studs to go in the sole of my wading boots.  The slippery rocks of the San Juan can be difficult to navigate, and so I am looking forward to the new advantage I will gain with the added grip of the studs.  But as I was thinking about the hard carbide tipped studs added to the soft felt sole of the boot, a concern came to mind.  There is a great ethic in fly-fishing in that we wade into pristine rivers, use single barbless hooks, fish and enjoy the environment and then wade out leaving the river just the way we found it except for the tired fish we released and the quickly fading foot prints.  However, I have seen the scaring on rocks from the carbide studs of other fly-fisherman’s boots and it begs the question, in seeking to be comfortable and safe on the river are we failing in our ethic of “Leave No Trace?” Are the scrapes and marks left by our footsteps leaving long term imprints on the appearance of the riverbed, or worse is there some ecological implications?  Well, that question is still up for debate, and probably will be for many years to come.

However, there is another greater question which comes to my mind.  Is my concern for how I walk through the environment overshadowed by my concern for how I walk through this life as a Christian?  Unfortunately I have in the past spent too many years seeking to perfect the false ethic of “Leave No Trace” in the lives of those I came in contact with.  Whether I was too embarrassed, to shy, or just afraid of damaging the lives of friends and fellow workers I chose to remain comfortable and safe in my Christian walk; rather than willing to be bold and risk the chance of sharing Jesus Christ with them and seeing their lives changed forever or losing them as a friend.

As I screw the final carbide tipped stud into the sole of my wading boot, I can’t help but think of Paul’s words in Colossians 2:6-7, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” This great imperative given to the first Christians in Colossae is just as important for us today.  It forces me to go back and evaluate the life of Christ, to look at how he behaved (walked) in the world, how he impacted those lives around him.  Jesus didn’t choose comfort or safety, he was bold and purposeful.  He left the indelible mark of the invisible God in this world…Jesus left the Father’s very Imprint (Hebrews 1:3) on people’s lives.

Therefore, my desire is to leave the very imprint of Christ everywhere I go.  How do I do that?  By being rooted and built up in Christ…established in the faith. That only happens through extreme Bible study and prayer.  Then and only then can I leave the comfort of the four walls of the church, and start to leave the marks of Jesus on the hearts of people.  Only when I sit at the feet of Jesus and desire to be discipled, can I truly fulfill the Great Commission and begin to make disciples.

Study to know Him,

The Holy Bible : English Standard Version., Col 2:6-7 (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001).

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Let Go!

Easter and the FamilyInteresting time of year Easter always is. For me this year it seems to be busier than ever. Maybe that is because for the first time in my life, I am the one preaching the Good Friday and Easter services. In the weeks prior to this coming weekend, I have been somewhat concerned, and apprehensive. Not really sure why. I guess it being my first Easter service, I so desired to correctly present Jesus Christ and the atoning act of his life, death and resurrection that I almost missed him in all the details.

Then this week as I was immersed in my studies seeking to trace the line of God’s redeeming work towards us his creation, from its beginning to the cross where it was completed, God spoke and the immensity of his word caught my attention.

The story of redemption doesn’t necessarily begin in Egypt, however God’s plan unfolds in an incredible way here. And unfortunately it starts with death. Sadly on this day, the first passover, many died, the firstborn of the family regardless of whether you were a human or animal. However, it didn’t just being at death, you see it begins in the heart of man. One man that couldn’t seem to let go of something he so greatly desired to hold on to. One man that chose not to listen to God. One man who thought he could be a god.

PharaohAfterward Moses and Aaron went and said to Pharaoh, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.’ ” 2 But Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.” Exodus 5:1-2

Pharaoh’s heart was hardened. God begins all this making it clear to Moses that He (God) will harden Pharaoh’s heart–and this is a repeated phrase throughout the plagues–but scripture also says that Pharaoh himself hardened his heart, Exodus 8:15. Nevertheless, Pharaoh by his own words, makes the proud statement, “Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice.” As a result the final plague on Egypt is what we now know as the passover. A lamb was to be chosen, introduced into the household like a pet and then on the evening of the 14th day, that lamb was to be killed. Blood was to be taken and spread on the door frame of each household, and at midnight when the Angel of death passed by, the blood would be a sign and the Angel would pass over that house. The blood was a sign.

Pharaoh lost his firstborn that night, and the following day, the Israelites were freed. So it begins with a lamb, and a nation was freed from slavery. But that isn’t the end of the story, you see this coming weekend–Easter–is the rest of the story. For Christians, those who put their faith in Jesus Christ, Easter takes the story of the first passover, the first lamb that was slain to redeem a people from slavery and traces its purpose throughout the history of the Old Testament all the way up to the cross two thousand years ago. The lamb throughout the Old Testament is an earthly picture of what Jesus would become for us. It is documented throughout the Bible. Isaiah 53:7 prophesied about “the lamb that is led to the slaughter.” In John 1:29 John the Baptist, the forerunner for Christ said, “Behold the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world.” Acts 8:32 repeats the passage in Isaiah reminding us of the lamb that is silent before its shearer. In 1 Corinthians 5:7 Paul reminds us that “Christ, our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed.” And the Book of Revelation tells us in 5:12 that in heaven there will be thousands upon thousands and more saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain…”

So Jesus has become all of this for you and for me. And on the cross he took all the guilt and shame of my sin, and your sin, and Colossians tells us that the father laid it on Jesus, and the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands–death (Romans 6:23)–God set aside, and He nailed it to the cross. (Colossians 2:14) the righteous for the unrighteous. And in doing so, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ bought the final redemption of the entire world. A world born into the slavery of sin, with no hope of freedom or inheritance.

And yet, with all the excitement of being able to think hard about and remember what Jesus did for me this Easter season, my mind is stuck on Pharaoh. Why? Well that is the whole reason for writing. I kept going back to those words of Pharaoh, “Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go?” And I realize, that after all these thousands of years, God is still calling out to his creation, longing for and desiring a people that will “let go.” For me it was the desire to find perfection in a service that has nothing to do with me, but everything to do with Christ Jesus. And for weeks, I have held on strongly to that prideful desire. So, I broke off the studies, long enough to write to you, and compel you this Easter season, to stop and listen to the voice of God. He is still the same, and he is still calling out to us to let go. Will you harden you heart, and refuse to give in to the Lord of lords, and King of kings, or will you allow Christ to break open your heart and have Lordship over you. The choice is always yours. But as in the beginning, death is on the line. Is eternity worth it, when the price has already been paid for you in full.

Let Go,

Study to know Him,

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