Nevertheless . . .


 

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Luke 5:4-9

This was Peter’s response in Luke 5 to the Lord’s direction to launch out and let down your nets for a draught. How often do we, like Peter, use God’s Word or His leading as a “last resort”? Peter stated, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless. . . Peter’s emphasis seemed to have been on what they had done – we have toiled all night. Humanly, they had done all they could do, but look at the result when they resigned to Divine intervention! They had such success that they had to call for help. They had such a catch that their nets break, and their ships began to sink. Then we see the real character of Peter. He was so convicted by his unbelief that he fell at Jesus’ knee and repented of his sin. We have all been like Peter at times – nevertheless, Lord, and then were astonished at His abundant blessings. So let’s also be like Peter and repent of our lack of faith and disbelief.

What Motivates You to Serve?


imagesII Corinthians 5:14-15

“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead; And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.”

Some people may wonder why a missionary would “give up everything to go serve God in another country.” The only answer I have for this type of question is found in II Corinthians 5:14-15.  It is the love of Christ that constrains me or compels me to follow His will for my life.  Notice it doesn’t say that my love for Christ is what compels me to serve Him.  It is His love for me displayed in His sacrificial death on Calvary that compels me to live, not for myself, but for the One Who gave Himself for me!  When we see this Scripture as it is written and understand that God gave everything for me, how can I do anything less than serve Him with my life?  For me, that service involves leaving what is seemingly comfortable and convenient here in the USA to serve the Lord in England where He has called me to serve.  For you, it is probably completely different.  The question is not where you will serve the Lord, but rather, what will motivate, constrain, or compel you to serve the Lord?  Is His love enough to compel you to stop living for yourself and live for Him?  Consider Calvary and His sacrifice the next time you are tempted to live unto yourself!

Changes


337560As the leaves change on the trees and the colors are revealed, I am reminded how often change comes into our lives. Sometimes changes come for the better, and sometimes changes come because of poor choices.  Those decisions are ours.  Sometimes changes come that have nothing at all to do with us but are brought on by our health, family members, accidents, or events we have no control over.  But whatever the change and the circumstance, God can use it to build our lives.  We can get bitter or better.  That choice is ours!  Change is hard—for everyone, but we must learn to get better because of the changes and grow more to be like Christ!

I am comforted by the fact that even with all the changes we see in and around us, our God NEVER changes. Hebrews 13:8 tells us “Jesus Christ the same, yesterday, and to day, and forever.”  Immutability—one of the attributes of God—He NEVER changes.  In a world that is changing constantly and with the changes that come into my life daily, I’m very thankful that my God NEVER changes!

A Lamp and a Light


images“For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life.” Proverbs 6:23

A miner worked long, hard hours deep in the bowels of the earth. Each night as he trekked the two mile hike home his feet felt heavier and heavier.  He never complained for he knew that soon he would see the faint glint of a light his wife had set to guide his way.  From far away the light shined, first just a pinpoint, but then growing larger into the full glow of a lamplight.  For the miner, there was no more welcoming sight in the world.  For him the light was … Home.

God’s word is as a lamp and His law a light to guide us on our way home to Him. His reproofs of instruction also assist us to keep headed toward the path and our final goal … Home!

Thankful for God’s Wisdom


imagesI’m so thankful that we serve a God who is wise. It is such a comfort that when all is confusing and out of control, God is already there.  Nothing has taken Him by surprise and His plan is being worked out, even as we fret!

James 1:5 has come to my rescue so many times, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally…” Daily I find myself begging God for the wisdom to deal with one situation or another—sometimes dealing with work or out in the public but more often than not, with my own family.  I praise God for His way with us—foolish men.  He, as our Creator, knows how feeble and foolish we can be.  He’s always ready to forgive and willing to give wisdom, if we but ask!

How awesome it is that we can call on Him and He will answer (Jer. 33:3)! I cannot imagine blindly going through the trials of life without our magnificent Savior. It is such a comfort that He knows EVERYTHING and will guide and direct our lives if we allow.

 

Food for Thought


imagesCYAG8Y00While vacationing with friends recently, our search for a restaurant took us to one called “Food For Thought.” The restaurant is located in Williamsburg, Virginia, and the food is good. There are small 3×5 cards (“Food for Talk”) on each table with ideas or thoughts on them. Thus the mind can be challenged as you await your meal, and we did discuss some of the thoughts that we read. We all came away satisfied with the food and the unique practice of feeding the mind as well.

A believer cannot eat there without thinking of spiritual food for thought. The “physical body” must be fed. We did that when the food came. The spiritual person must also be fed. We do that through the Word. Depravation of either food or the Word leaves one weak and vulnerable. Let’s look at some “Spiritual Food for Thought.” God’s Book, the Bible, becomes our source of nourishment for the day. Be strong in the Lord.

I want to give you four words with accompanying verses with the hope that it will be “Food for Thought” for your day. The words are Assurance, Peace, Joy, and Success. It is imperative to have Assurance of your salvation. Let this truth be “Food for Spiritual thought.” 1 John 5:11-13, “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”

With assurance we move to the word Peace. Peace is a blessing especially in the time of storm. Psalm 119:165, “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.;” John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid

What a unique blessing to have the Joy of the Lord! John wrote in 1 John 1:4, “And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.” He assured the believers that he had heard, seen, and handled the Word of Life (Jesus). In verse 3, he was declaring all these things that your joy may be full. “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.”

Lastly, let’s talk about being Successful in the unsuccessful world. Joshua 1:8-9, “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”

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One of the cards in the group of “Food for Talk” had these thoughts on the definition of Success:

“Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable.”

–John Wooden (1910-2010) 40 year high school and college basketball coach, 10 National Championships UCLA Basketball

Share your definition of success. Are you doing everything you can to become the best of which you are capable?

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“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” — Isaiah 55:8-9

 

Am I My Brother’s Keeper?


imagesQ85E9U4FWho is responsible to counsel in the church? The Pastor does have the responsibility but often cannot counsel with everyone!  Who is able to help fellow believers or unbelievers in the pew?  Church members need to be able to know how to use the Scriptures to minister to one another and need instruction on how to minister using the Scriptures depending on the Holy Spirit to do the work in the heart.

The Pastor (or some of his helpers) need to equip the saints or perfect them. Ephesians 4:11, 12, “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;   For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:”  The pastor teaches and perfects the saints.  Paul was an example.  He stated in Act 20:19, 20,  “Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews:  And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house,”

The pastor and his helpers used the Scriptures to minister, to teach, and to counsel. Just as Paul was faithful, so the pastor is faithful.  Acts 20:31, “Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.”  His goal was teaching and admonishing.

Paul used the Scriptures just as the faithful pastor today uses the Scriptures. He did not use secular sources, but he relied on God’s Word.  I Thessalonians 2:9-20 expresses the true heart of the faithful pastor.  His goal is to restore or gain his brother or sister.

Those who assist him need to study to be approved unto God to do the work of ministering to others as well. It does take a measure of diligence and study.  If there are situations which are beyond the capabilities of an individual, he needs to study more and go with the individual to someone who can give the Truth from his experiences in dealing with others.  This way the believer can grow as he seeks help for the individual.

Fulfilling the great commission is winning the lost and then teaching them to observe all the things the Lord has commanded us to teach. Coming alongside the new convert and showing him the skills he needs to learn to grow and serve is a great blessing and responsibility.

Selective Hearing


untitledBut whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. —- James 1:25

As a child, I would go out to play with my friends, sometimes in my yard and at other times down the street or even a block away. When it was time for lunch or dinner my mother would step out the door and call my name. I mean scream my name at the top of her lungs. All my friends could hear her, but I seemed to be out of range. I had Selective Hearing.

At times I would sit in the living room watching TV or playing a game only to find mom standing in the doorway saying, “I’ve said three times that the trash needs to be taken out!” What was my response? “I didn’t hear you!” This was also Selective Hearing because EVERYONE could hear my mother!

Do we do the same thing as we read the Bible or hear the preaching of God’s Holy Word? We pick and choose the things we pay attention to. How many times have we sat in a church service and when we walked out we could not remember what the theme of the message was?  Scripture tells us not to be forgetful hearers!  Get up off the pew and get busy about the Lord’s work. Be the doer He has called you to be. The great thing about doing God’s work God’s way is that he promises to bless us! I’m thankful God forgives us when we recognize our disobedient, Selective Hearing and confess it to Him.

Do you have Selective Hearing when it comes to spiritual things? Check your hearing today! God is speaking, are you listening?

Internal War


images“For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”

- Romans 7:22-25

As a nation we have been through wars and even tossed around rumors of wars from time to time.  Presently, many of our men and women are on the front lines positioned defensively to protect our country and allies.  However, there is a different war each of us must deal with on a daily basis (or even more frequently): the war against our sin nature, the flesh.

Paul reminds us of this war in the subject verses by showing himself in the same predicament. First he establishes or determines within himself that he desires to obey God by delighting “in the law of God.”  He made a choice to view the law of God as something wonderful; it truly is something wonderful because once we get a taste and realize what it does for us, there is a God-given desire for more.  But, he then looks within and sees a contrary “law” and labels it as that which is part of his very body.  Other locations in Scripture this law is aptly labeled as “lust of the eyes,” “lust of the flesh,” and “pride of life.”  Here Paul puts them all together and points out their desire to bring him into submission.  Then looking at everything going on, almost in desperation he asks for deliverance and goes directly to the One he knows has the ability.  As the result he conveys the believer’s human condition: a lifelong internal war between serving God and serving self.

Paul struggled with this, as we all do now. We must first make the choice; we must have the desire within our mind to serve the LORD understanding that there is part of us that does not desire that servitude!  The final point from Paul is the availability of deliverance.  However, even with this deliverance, it will still be a constant war.  Take comfort and encouragement from the fact that God understands our condition, and His grace is ever present as we “mess up” in this war of life; His strength should be our reliance and sole source of aid!  Let us always look to Him in prayer, guidance from His Holy Spirit, and study of His word.

The Spot in Belle Fourche


imagesICTO2DCDIn August our family was about to wind up our 25th summer of evangelism across the continent. We drove one thousand miles overnight from Montana to Missouri.  As we entered South Dakota, we came upon the little town of Belle Fourche.  First, I found the historic wedge-shaped building where the railroad track and the street meet at an acute angle.  It made for “a cute” building shaped like a piece of pie.

Then I was told about the spot in town that is the geographic center of the fifty states.  (As a boy I had been to Lebanon, Kansas, to see the center of the forty-eight states, and for the last two years I have seen the monument in Rugby, North Dakota, for the center of North America.)  We drove back two blocks to the museum with flags for all fifty states and took turns standing on the small disc that marked the center of our country.

That makes me think of how Americans often act.  We many times act as if we are the center of attention, and everything else revolves around us.  “Us four and no more.”  “After me, you’re first.”  It reminds me of the old joke that a graduating senior would give a speech and announce, “In kindergarten, I was the line-leader.”  Who cares?  Who remembers?  What difference does it make twelve years later?

Human nature is to be selfish, and self-centered.  Yes, we often act like we are the pivotal point of the whole country, but we are not.  Very few of us live in Belle Fourche.  Very few of us are nationally known.  We really spend most of our lives in obscurity, and God blesses the humble anyway.  We should put others first.  We must decrease and He must increase in our lives.  We should humble ourselves and let God exalt us if He so chooses.