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INCOMPARABLE

No person who has ever walked this earth even comes close to comparison when placed up against Jesus Christ. He is unique. He is incomparable. He is our Lord. Here is what one unknown person wrote about Him years ago.

“More than 1900 years ago there was a Man born contrary to the laws of life. This Man lived in poverty and was reared in obscurity. He did not travel extensively. Only once did He cross the boundary of the country in which He lived; that was during His exile in childhood. He possessed neither wealth nor influence. His relatives were inconspicuous and had neither training nor formal education.
In infancy He startled a king; in childhood He puzzled doctors; in manhood He ruled the course of nature, walked upon the billows as if pavements, and hushed the sea to sleep. He healed the multitudes without medicine and made no charge for His service. He never wrote a book, yet all the libraries of the country could not hold the books that have been written about Him. He never wrote …

ENLARGED HEART

Dr. Seuss’ famous story of the Grinch Who Stole Christmas says that the Grinch lived just above Who-ville with a serious problem.  The reader is made aware that his heart was two sizes too small.  This is why the Grinch hated Christmas and everything else about the merry Whos.  By the end of the story, however, something happens.  After working to ruin Christmas, the Grinch saw the Whos celebrating and loving each other even though they had nothing.  “And what happened then...?  Well...in Who-ville they say, that the Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day!”

The Grinch’s heart enlarged because he saw how the people loved each other no matter the circumstances.  Once he saw their unconditional love, he wanted to be a part of it and he wanted to have it.  It is no wonder his heart enlarged!  He had never before experienced that kind of unselfish love that was not based on getting or gaining more. 
Jesus gave his disciples a new command in the book of John.  "A new command …

Who Are You?

One of the things that I love about reading the letters of the Apostle Paul is that I get a chance to see someone who was very clear about his identity.  There wasn’t much confusion in how Paul saw himself.  “I Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God…”— (Romans 1:1). There wasn’t a lack of clarity on how God has taken a hold of him and molded him into who he was.  

I have observed that many people are confused these days.  They don’t know who they really are. They don’t understand the core of their identity.  The following are some statements that might help you reclaim what God has done and is doing in your life.  As you read the following, decide to own it!   Understand that these are not just hopes for which we would like to become, but realities of how God has reshaped and transformed you into His likeness.  They are already part of who you are!  Know them and live them!  
“I am a Christ-follower.” When the disciples were first call…

SHOP 'TIL WE DROP

All things being equal, I’m glad to be a Christian, living in America. Many of us have been blessed with the material prosperity that is common to the average American. The day after Thanksgiving is known as “Black Friday by retailers.” The one day out of the year that turns their losses into profit.It also marks the official start to another holiday shopping season. Many will venture out to the local malls, fighting the crowds to get the best deals as we work through our Christmas shopping lists. Yet, it is troubling to me that somehow our material prosperity is directly related to our relationship with Jesus. 

Does the abundant life really mean that Jesus came to help us focus on our ability to shop ‘til we drop? I don’t think so! Try telling that to the millions of fellow brothers and sisters in Christ around the world who will regard themselves blessed if they are able to eat a meal today.
Jesus did come to give us life to the full, but the abundant life He was referring to is spiri…

DIGESTED TURTH

In John’s third Epistle, he gives a shout-out to Gaius because of his Christ-following character. “Some of the brothers recently returned and made me very happy by telling me about your faithfulness and that you are living in the truth” (3 John 3 NLT). 

The truth was in Gaius, and Gaius lived the truth. If the first had not been true, the second could never have occurred. Therefore, if the second could not be said of him the first would have been a mere misrepresentation of the truth. Truth must enter into the depths of your being, penetrate and saturate it, or it is of no value. Doctrines held as a matter of devotion are like bread in the hand, which provides no nourishment to the body. But doctrine accepted by the heart, is like food that has been digested. It is absorbed sustaining and building up the body.  So it is for Christ-followers that truth must be a living force, an active energy, an indwelling reality, a part of the fabric of our lives. If it is in us, we won’t be without i…

Irritated Faith

What’s the best way to tell if your faith is real? The apostle Peter, who was an expert in this area, says that the best way to tell if your faith is authentic is when it encounters hardship. “These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire test gold…so when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” (1 Peter 1:7 NLT)

If your faith has not been tested, you may have faith, but rest assured it will be little and likely will remain that way as long as it goes on without trials. Faith never prospers until situations come up against it. The storms of life are good trainers to condition and strengthen your faith. Jesus reminded the disciples of their undersized faith when they woke Him up from sleeping during a terrible thunderstorm at sea (Mat. 8:26). Christ then demonstrated how potent faith can be by rebuking the winds and the sea and all became…

RECEIVING—THE ULTIMATE BLESSING

The apostle Paul in Ephesians 2:8 tells us that salvation is a “gift.” The process of acquiring a gift is by receiving. So then one’s life of faith is represented as receiving. A person simply accepts His free gift. Paul makes clear that there is no deed or “work” on the part of the individual to which one can claim credit for their salvation.

“Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord …” (Colossians 2:6). What does it mean to “receive Christ?” It’s like the Texas ground which until a few weeks ago, was drought ridden. But in the last week the skies have opened up and have poured out some much needed rain on this dry and thirsty land. The earth drank in the rain—received it freely. Christ-followers are but containers into which the living water of God’s free grace flows. We are empty dry vessels into which God pours His salvation.

The genuineness of this receiving is that Christ becomes real to us. Christ becomes Lord. The Word is our life of faith and it becomes meaningful a…

THE RIGHT SPIRIT

The word backsliding is found only in the Old Testament in conjunction with the nation of Israel. It was used in two ways. One was related to unregenerate people who turn stubbornly away from God (Jer. 49:4). The second use was for believes who go through times when they do not grow or are set back in their growth by sin (Hosea 4:16). The latter will be used for our discussion here. If you are a backslider and think you have slid too far out of the reach of God’s arms your wrong. You just need a little spark of life to get you started groaning for restoration. Restoration is the process needed to renew your relationship with Christ. When repentance is necessary, then it is His exercise of grace that brings renewal. When you came to Christ by faith in the first place it was grace that made a way for your salvation the same grace is what you call on now to bring you back to the arms of Jesus. It is the flesh that has become great in you. Therefore, you need the greater work of the power o…

UNRAVELED LIFE

Isn't it awesome that the bible was written thousands of years ago, yet remains so relevant for us today! Taking a familiar passage of Scripture and applying the passage to our lives helps us grow in our daily walk with the Lord. Therefore, let’s look at the story of the rich young ruler from the perspective of Christ calling for acceptance of Him as Savior and Christ calling us into full devotion to Him. 

Mark 10:17— As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. "Good teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" 
Notice the attitude of the rich young ruler. He ran to Jesus. The young man did not approach Jesus with an arrogant demeanor. The man fell on his knees. This is a clear sign of reverence for Christ. The title "Good" refers to God, as only God is good. This man who had all the wealth anyone could possibly want acknowledges that he is lacking the most important wealth. That treasure is the se…

WHAT DID I DO WRONG?

Have you ever argued with God, trying to deny that you did anything wrong? King Saul did, in first Samuel chapter fifteen! When confronted by Samuel, God’s servant/prophet, to “Stop telling lies” and listen up because the Lord God had a message to share with him concerning his unacceptable behavior, Saul argued that he did not disobey God (v. 15) but rather it was his army that was at fault. How often do we put the blame on someone else and fail to take responsibility for our misdeeds?

Samuel rejected Saul’s lies and explained why God couldn’t accept the captured animals as legitimate sacrifices. “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice.” The prophet was saying that the Lord God wants living obedience from the heart, not dead animals on the altar. God doesn’t need any of our gifts what He desires from us is a broken and repentant heart (Psalm 51:17). Making sacrifices to God without…

BORN OF GOD

The US Treasury has specialist whose job it is to track down counterfeiters. These individuals know a fake bill when they see it. The reason they are able to detect fraudulent currency is because they spend countless hours studying the real thing. They are so familiar with authentic bills they can spot a counterfeit by looking at it or even, more times than not, simply by feeling it. In our world today there are counterfeit Christians that the Bible describes as “children of the devil.” In the same way a Treasury official spots fakes by knowing intimately the genuine article, the Scriptures give a genuine description of Gods children not the characteristics of Satan’s children.The contrast is obvious.

A true child of God practices righteousness and loves other Christ-followers despite their differences. “Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God” (1 John 3:10). Practicing righteousness and loving the brethren is a true sign of being a…

WIN AGAINST SIN (Part 2)

Walking in the light involves following Christ’s example and walk as He walked—1 John 2:6—“Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.” The key statement here is “as Jesus did.” We are to walk in the light as Jesus did by living here on earth the way Jesus lived when He was here, and the way He is right now in heaven. As Christ-followers we are to look to Jesus Christ as the one great Example of the kind of life we should live.

To win against sin you must abide in Christ who is the sacrifice for your sins and the advocate who represents you before God for He is the perfect pattern for your daily life (1 John 2:1a-2). To abide in Christ means to depend completely on Him for all that you need in order to live for Him and serve Him. It is a living relationship. When He lives His life through you, you are able to follow His example and walk as He walked. Paul said it like this in Galatians 2:20, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” Christ lives…

WIN AGAINST SIN

How long have you been living with the notion that you, Christ-follower, can’t win against sin? Can your sins be conquered? John makes it clear that Christ-followers do not have to sin. “I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin.” (1 John 2:1)

Here’s the secret to having victory over your sin—“walk in the light” (1 John 1:7). To be open, honest, and sincere is what it means to walk in the light. It was Paul who prayed in Philippians 1:10 that his friends might “be sincere and without offense.” The word sincere is from two Latin words, sine and cera, which mean “without wax.” In the days of the Roman sculptors they would cover up their mistakes by filling in the defects of their marble statues with wax, which was unnoticeable until the statue had been exposed to the hot sun for a while. It was the more reputable sculptors who made sure that during the sale their customers knew that their statues were sine ceru —without wax. Churches and Bible study classes are filled with …

DELIGHTFUL SINGING

You should be excited to know that God delights in Christ-followers. When we are in the dumps or just not living up to our full potential in the will of God we tend to find it hard to come up with any reason why the Lord should take pleasure in us. That’s because we are not happy with ourselves. The evidence we draw from by groaning, being sinful, unfaithful, unkind, bad examples to other Christ-followers, and being otherwise deplorable, thoroughly convinces our consciousness that our imperfections and overall failures are proof enough that others wouldn’t enjoy our company much less God.

It is at this point you must end your stinkin’-thinkin’ and turn to God’s Word. The glorious truth it contains transcends your present state of mind and brings you back to the reality of your relationship with the Divine. “God will rejoice over you as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride.” (Isaiah 62:5) Say this to yourself; “The Lord rejoices over me.” Repeat it. Again! I’ve not read anywhere in the Bi…

BELIEVABLE BELIEVERS

Two vital factors validating Christ-followers will always be their life of faith and their walk of faith. Having a firm understanding of these factors develops a believable believer. True faith, a living faith, is never void of godliness because it is rooted in the righteousness of Christ. A life of faith is a life living for Jesus. Misery follows those who try to pursue one without the other. The apostle Paul gives insight into this concept by saying; “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:25)

Don’t be like some folks who are passionate about improving their faith but forget holiness. They become masters in biblical precepts but without holiness they are holding truth in unrighteousness. Don’t be like the Pharisees in Jesus’ day that passionately sought holiness in life but denied the faith. Jesus called them frauds— all nice a pretty on the outside but filled on the inside with all sorts of impurities (Matthew 23:27). In religious gatherings these in…

THE INFINITE IS GOD

Mankind will always have finite knowledge. Honestly, there are things in this world that intentionally remain a mystery to even the most intelligent investigative minds. Infinite knowledge is God’s alone. If this is true concerning the things fixed to the world’s time-line—past, present, and future then we can be confident that it also applies to matters that are spiritual and eternal.Bible Students torture their brains with all kinds of assumptions concerning end-times, predestination, election, and human responsibility. These are deep and expansive truths that elude our total comprehension. We are no more able to grasp theses issues than we are in determining the dimensions of the foundations of the earth. “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much. Who determined its dimensions and stretched out the surveying line? What supports its foundations, and who laid its cornerstone?” (Job 38:4-6)

Our curious fallen nature always wants to know the …

BATTLE READY

Our Revelation Bible study on Wednesday nights has awakened us to an ongoing reality that is not front page news in most churches of this age—that we are engaged in a great war with evil, (Eph. 6:12)!Our fight is not with each other and the evil is not when bad things happen to us it is the war that rails against our relationship with Jesus Christ.If we are not careful our ability to fight will be lost due to concessions that have lessened our faith. Failure to keep our weapons prepared and ready for battle will be costly in the end.

The recklessness of Saul in 1 Samuel 13-15 demonstrated how he came up against the evil of his day, which was in the form of the Philistine army. The concession or decay in Saul’s character through pride, unbelief, impatience, and deception should be example enough for the church today and Christ-followers who become foolish in thinking all we have to do is show up and evil will flee. It was bad enough that Saul lacked men, but it was even worse that his …

WAIT

Our youngest daughter gave birth Wednesday at 8:09 am to a 20 ½ inch, 7.4 lb. baby boy, named Boston. She spent 18 hrs. in labor. Around her was all the medical technology that man could provide, pain medication, fetal monitor, an L&D nurse to check dilation, and family at her side. Yet, the waiting continued throughout the night into the morning, no sleep just, “I’m ready for this baby now! Let’s get this over with!” Megan has never been good with pain or waiting. When the two were synchronized together it was memorable to say the least. When Boston finally joined the human race and snap-shots recording his every move were being taken, joy filled our hearts and the wonder of his presence among us was overwhelming. But, soon the elation turned to concern for he was not crying like the other babies. It was determined he had an infection and the nurses began the process of treating him. There was a rollercoaster of emotions while we waited minute by minute for the status of his condi…

FAITH IMPROVEMENT

Have you ever asked yourself, “How can I have the assurance that my faith is growing and bearing the fruit of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ?”I would tell you, "Give careful attention to improve the qualities of your character." Make every effort to respond to God's promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. (2 Peter 1:5-7) It is important to be diligent about having the right kind of faith. Believing solely in the principles of the Bible will leave you unfulfilled; it is a simple faith, depending on Christ alone that makes faith grow. It is vital that you pray without ceasing to God asking Him to give you the courage to always have a clear consciousness about boldly doing the right thing no matter t…

WATERING

The Bible teaches us a lesson that many refuse to learn, that to get, we must give. “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you." (Luke 6:38)

In order to enlarge what we have, we must first scatter. If happiness is what we seek, we must make others happy. If we want to become spiritually strong we must invest in the spiritual good of others. “The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself.” (Proverbs 11:25)

Our city is under a water restriction mandate this summer because of the lack of sufficient rains to fill area lakes. There are designated days in which a home owner can water the lawn—only two days a week. Many simply do not water at all and their grass, flowers, and shrubs turn brown indicating the lack of moisture. When the Scriptures speak of watering others it places no restrictions on…

YEARLY GOODNESS

Every hour of every day, all year long God is abundantly blessing us. His mercy is on us whether we are asleep or awake. No matter how dark our situation God never ceases to shine his radiant beams of love over us. His inexhaustible loving-kindness like a river flows down to us from heaven’s throne. Even the atmosphere that continually surrounds planet earth allows the support of life for all mankind. He is the most benevolent God—it’s His nature. The sun, moon, and harvest are triggers of the ebb-an-flow of his magnificent grace to all. The seasons are ripe with the realized expectation of hope for His abundance to be bestowed unto us. Great is the joy of harvest. The Psalmist tells us that the harvest is the crowning of the year. “You crown the year with Your goodness” (Psalm 65:11).
Sadly we are so caught up in the empty promises offered by this world that we fail to give thanks for these great yearly mercies. Let your hearts be warmed by meditating upon the goodness of the Lord. Th…

KNOWLEDGE VIEW

It is of the utmost importance for a Christ-follower to grow not only in grace, but in the "knowledge" of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To know God is the greatest form of knowledge and is a source of strength. “The people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.” (Daniel 11:32 ESV)

Knowledge strengthens our faith. The Bible speaks often of believers blessed and taught about the Lord. It says in 1 John 2:20, “Christ, the Holy One, has blessed you, and now all of you understand.” It is the work of the Holy Spirit to lead a believer into all truth for the purpose of increasing and developing their faith. Along with our faith, knowledge also strengthens our love of Christ. It is the door through which we see the Savior. Knowledge takes a high resolution photo of Jesus and when we see that picture of Him we love Him. We can’t love Him if we don’t know Him. Low level knowledge of what Jesus has done for usand is doing for us puts a limitation on the amount of love …

HIGH ON THAT MOUNTAIN

My sister and brother-in-law took their family on a two week RV-ing vacation to the northwest region of the US concluding their journey in Colorado Springs. It reminded me of when my wife and I visited those vast expansive mountains especially viewing those breath-taking vistas at the summit of Pikes Peak.

Gaining our view or knowledge of Christ is somewhat like driving up Pikes Peak. As you begin your assent at the base you are limited in what you can see and have no good measure of how high it really is. Confined in your vehicle you discover hardly anything but the trees rippling from the granite rocks as you wind around each curve past the tree line on the 19 mile roadway. The higher you climb the scenery below ever widens. Going higher and higher you see the landscape around for miles and miles. Still climbing the scene enlarges when at last you are on the summit. Walking around you look east, west, north, and south it seems as if you can see all of beautiful America, from sea to s…

TURN YOUR EYES

I use a phrase among my family and my church family; it is “Live for Jesus.” This simple ditty is used as a reminder that He is our light and life. But you can’t live for Jesus if you’re not “Looking to Jesus—Hebrews 12:2. You see He is the founder and the one who has perfected our faith. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to keep our eyes focused on Christ and away from self. It is the work of Satan to counter the Spirit’s activity and have you continually try to put yourself in a higher regard than Jesus. 

The father of lies insinuates that your sins are way too many, so, forgiveness is out of the question. He tries to convince you that you have no faith and you don’t repent enough therefore you will never be able to make it to heaven. The devil will point out your joy is not equal to that of some other child of God and you waver too much in your walk with Jesus. All of these thoughts are about self and we will never find any comfort or assurance by looking within.

The Holy Spirit’s m…

LIGHT UP

There are two principles at work within a Christ-follower. The first principle you’re born with. It was your natural or default mode. It is called “darkness.” But, since the time you came to know Christ as your Savior and Lord you entered into principle number two—“Light.” These two principles do not get along with each other.

The apostle Paul, in Romans 7:21 and following, speaks of this war within when he says, “I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I love God's law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.” What causes this state of being that Paul describes? The way to understanding this issue begins in the first book and chapter of the Bible — Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. (Gen…

It’s Crying Time Again

Crying is the universally accepted way to express sorrow. Infants belt out this noise when all other modes of appeal to their parents fail. The same can be said of Christ-followers expressing their trouble to their heavenly parent, the Lord God. Only to Him should we bear our soul’s intense and personal distresses, for to cry to man is to waste our pleas— it’s like throwing them up into the air only to have them crash land.

David expressed it like this in Psalm 28:1 when he said, “I pray to you, O Lord, my rock. Do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you are silent, I might as well give up and die.”If we could only stop for a sober moment to consider how ready the Lord is to hear our cry and strengthen our hearts in His ability to render us aid, we would develop an instinctive habit for directing all our requests instantly to the Rock of our salvation. The Psalmist exclaims "Don’t turn a deaf ear to me." This is no formal prayer taught to say in church whereby mere repeating c…

Whole Lot of Shaking Going On

The recent events involving the health of my mother have shaken me emotionally. It is a path in life that if we had it our way we would have never taken. Life, unfortunately, no matter how well planned-out and lived always delivers unexpected facts that are unavoidable. What is most helpful is digging deep for perspective through God’s true and trustworthy Word. The Word always puts life into its proper light. The book of Hebrew says, "I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also. This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain." — Heb. 12:26-27 NLT We hold in our possession right now many things which can be shaken. When we as Christ-followers set a high value on those things it can leave us in unpleasant situations because we’ve built hope in stuff that is totally unstable, like the rolling clouds of a thunderstorm. Solomon says to everything there is a season or, to put it another way, change will come to all t…

I AM HERE TO HELP!

Help, O Lord! This is a prayer given by King David in Psalm 12:1. It is an amazing simple prayer yet usefully short. It is so suitable for our need. It says volumes in such few words and is greatly expressive to God for assistance. David lamented over the scarcity of faithful men at his disposal. He lifts up his heart making his plea to God—when the creature failed, he reached out and up to the Creator. He evidently felt his own weakness, or he would not have cried for help. However, at the same time he intended honestly to use himself for the cause of truth. Using the word "help" has no meaning if we ourselves do nothing. This prayer is full of directness, with focused insight as a plainly stated petition of two words. It expresses so much more than the long rambling outpourings we usually profess to our God. This King after God’s own heart runs straight-way to Him, with a well-measured prayer. David knows what he is in search of, and where to find it. Lord, teach us to pray…

HUMBLE YOURSELF

If you’re looking for a great example of someone with a humble heart look to Jesus. He is the only example needed to discover this useful characteristic in developing servant-hood. In fact most of us need daily lessons. Take for example John 13:4-11 where the Lord took a towel and washed His disciples’ feet! Christ-follower you’re not humble until you can do that! When you see Him as the Servant of all servants it’s hard to take a look at one’s self in the mirror and be proud. The entire NT demonstrates over and over that “He humbled Himself.” (see Philippians 2:5-8)

While Christ walked this earth He always stripped off any notion of being robed with honor until ultimately He was stripped naked and nailed to the cross giving up all for us and then placed in a borrowed grave. You can’t get any lower than our precious Redeemer. Just for a moment stand at the foot of the cross and notice the drops of blood by which you have been cleansed, then gaze at that crown of thorns pressed into His…

DARE TO HOPE

Our memory can often be the bondslave of hopelessness. A despondent mind can call to remembrance every dark ominous cloud of the past, and expand upon every unhappy feature of it in the present. When memory becomes clothed in sackcloth it can only present to the mind a bitter brew of bleakness. Your mind can take you to a place where you forget that joy exists. There is, however, no need for this kind of stinkin’ thinkin’. 

Biblical wisdom can quickly transform our memory into a messenger of comfort. That same recall, which on the one hand brings so many gloomy forecasts, may be taught to bring forth on the other hand a wealth of hopeful signs. Let’s use the prophet Jeremiah as an example of how this is accomplished.

Jeremiah’s memory was often clothed in sackcloth. “I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this—the faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease.” (Lamentations 3:20-22 NLT)

Jeremiah's expe…