Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Clean Hearts and Acceptable Sacrifices                                      

Isaiah 1:11  "What are all your sacrifices to Me?" asks the LORD. "I have had enough of burnt offerings and rams and the fat of well-fed cattle; I have no desire for the blood of bulls, lambs, or male goats. .....15  When you lift up your hands in prayer, I will refuse to look at you; even if you offer countless prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood.  16  "Wash yourselves. Cleanse yourselves. Remove your evil deeds from My sight. Stop doing evil.  17  Learn to do what is good. Seek justice. Correct the oppressor. Defend the rights of the fatherless. Plead the widow's cause.  18  "Come, let us discuss this," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are as red as crimson, they will be like wool.""

God cares not for our sacrifices, our prayers and our fasting.  He cares most for our hearts and soul.  If our hearts be evil, then our sacrifices, prayers, and fasting will also be evil as they all flow from our inner man.  If our heart be right, then these practices will also be right and pleasing to the Lord. 

Therefore, before I enter into a time of sacrifice and prayer and fasting, and before I offer my sacrifice unto the Lord I must first spend time in personal examination.  I must honestly examine myself from any sin and wicked way, and then judge it for what it is: sin against God.  I must call it by name as I confess it to myself and then to God.  If I do, then He has promised me that I will be cleansed from all of my sin (1 John 1:9).  Our Lord and Savior has made it clear time and time again in Scripture (Isa. 1:11-18; 58:1-8; Matt. 5:23-24) that He does not want my sacrifices but a pure heart that results in loving Him and loving others.  Without a clean heart my sacrifice, prayers and fasting are futile and even dangerous as they deceive me into a false assurance that my fleshy offerings are pleasing to God.   With a clean and pure heart my prayers and sacrifices are precious to my Lord as they are pictures of my dependence on Him and are acts of true worship.

Let us each take time to examine our hearts that we may come to Christ with clean hearts and acceptable sacrifices.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

I heard the Lord say, "Hello"

 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.
Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge.

-          Psalm 19:1-2

I heard the Lord say “hello” this morning.   I heard Him in the sweet voice of my granddaughter who awoke from a good night’s rest and cheerfully talking to herself.  I also heard Him say “hello” as I watched the sun peeking over the tall Florida pines to tell me a new and blessed day has arrived.  Actually, I have heard my Lord say “hello” already several times even though it is still early morning.   Even now I hear Him through the crowing of our neighbor’s big red rooster and through the obvious results of a well-needed and refreshing rain last evening.  What a joy to have a God who welcomes me each day into His incredible creation and reminds me time and again of His presence through His blessed, “hellos.”  If you have not heard His voice say “hello” to you this morning then I encourage you to stop and listen.  He is speaking all around you.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

No Secrets

Mark 4:7. For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should come to life.

There are no secrets with the Lord.  He knows all things and there will be a day all things will be exposed. This can be a blessing and a curse. It will be a blessing for the faithful who have served the Lord for years without fanfare. These never sought the praise of man for their deeds, but instead were content that God alone knew of their faithfulness. One day God will reveal all the good and faithful deeds that were done in secret and He will honor His faithful servants.  But there will be others whose deeds were not faithful and although they were done in secret shall be exposed. To them this truth shall be a curse.  They have lived their lives seeking the praise of men, presenting themselves as one thing but secretly hiding sins that would bring them disgrace in the public's eye.  Yet, sadly, they are only deceiving themselves and are blinded by three major truths: first, there are no secrets from God.  You can fool men, but not God.  Second, ultimately God is our judge and not men.  The same men whom we seek to please will stand in judgment even as ourselves.  Finally, one day every every thought, every motive of the heart and every deed will be exposed and thus judged by the righteous God.  Therefore, it is imperative that we remember: there are no secrets to God.  Our good deeds as well as our evil deeds will be exposed.  That my friend is why we need God's grace.  The question is, "On that day of exposure will we experience a blessing or a curse?"

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Joy of Simplicity

Over the last few months the Lord has placed one word on my heart and mind over and over and that word is “simplicity.” As I grow older and hopefully wiser, it as become so clear to me that it is the simple things that really matter and it is the simple things that bring us the greatest joy. As I review my life I ask myself, “How many times have I robbed myself of the simple pleasures of life by making things so difficult?” And “How many times have I robbed myself of the simple joy of my salvation by taking myself so serious?” Our Lord Jesus Christ is a perfect example of simplicity. Although, He is the Creator and Sustainer of all things, He came to this earth as a simple man and preached a simple message. Never did He allow Himself to get tangled up in the complexities of the confusing religious practices and debates of the day, but instead He simply taught the importance of the love of God. He explained to Nicodemus, a teacher and ruler of the Jews, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son and whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” How simple is that? When asked about the greatest commandment He simply responded, “Love God. Love People.” Again, how simple is that? Jesus Christ did not come to complicate our lives, but to set us free from the confusing man-made rules that stroke our pride and yet only complicate and frustrate our lives. The simplicity of the fact that Jesus loves me and calls me to love others is why His message has so resonated throughout the years changing lives, changing families, and changing nations. Simplicity is another example and blessing of God's unending grace.   I encourage each of us to keep things simple this year: love God and love people. Also, quit taking yourself so serious and quit being so pious.  Remember, it is by the righteousness of Christ we are saved and not of our own.  I assure you that not only will you make a greater difference in the lives of others, but you will find life much less complicated and thus discover the joy that Christ has for you.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Those Secret Sins

Psalm 90:8  You have set our iniquities before You. Our secret sins in the light of Your countenance.

Oh, those secret sins; those sins that we keep hidden so that we alone can enjoy them and caress their wicked delights. We keep them secret, unexposed so that no one will judge us or confront us about our waywardness although our spirit constantly reminds us of the deadly games we are playing. We may fool others but not ourselves as our own hearts know those secret sins are wrong, and thus the secretness. And how easy is it to justify ourselves in this little game that we play? We make excuses to ourselves as we enjoy these forbidden pleasures, yet we hide them away in the darkness so that no other can see. But, how terrible is the deception which we become so easily entangled. Yes, our secret sins will bring our flesh pleasure for the moment, but we are blinded or do not want to see the the deadly canker that gnaws away at our soul. These secret sins allure us to their tasty delights, but fail to remind us of the guilt of our soul that keeps us awake at night and the constant anxiousness from the worry when they will be exposed. There is a passing adrenaline or the fleeting rush received from the “getting away” with something, but there is no “getting away” as we know of our schemes and more importantly God knows. Therefore we live in the forced denial of the conviction of our soul and more importantly the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Our secret sins promise our freedom, but in reality only lead to bondage. Soon, our secret sins begin to control us rather than us controlling them. Our lives begin to be consumed of the sneakiness and the coverup of our secret sins which ensnare us into deeper bondage. We began to hate the hypocrite that we have become, and not able to honestly look at ourselves in the mirror. The temporary pleasures of our secret sins rob us of the blessed pleasures of the abundance that Christ has promised and the eternal joy of walking in fellowship with the True Lover of our Souls, Jesus Christ. We have traded the corrupt fruit of the world, for the sweet fruit offered only Christ. What a glorious day it is when we can become honest with ourselves and lay our secret sins at the foot of the cross and we begin to enjoy the freedom that can only be found in the grace of God.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Forget Not From Where You Came

Exodus 23:9 Also you shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the heart of the stranger, because you were strangers in the land of Egypt.

The Lord commanded the Israelites to never forget from where they came as He instructed them to “not oppress a stranger, for you know the heart of a stranger, because you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” It is so easy within our natural man to allow ourselves to forget from where we came before Christ Jesus delivered us from our sorrows. We soon forget that it was us who once struggled in the depths and the bondage of sin. It was us who was held hostage by our own selfishness. It was us who fought the battle with alcohol or drugs. It was us who lived sexually immoral lives. It was us who were once quick to lie and steal and were prone to outburst of rage. Yes, it was us who were bound in the grip of our sins yet God through His grace and mercy offered us pardon through Jesus Christ and set us free. Therefore, we have no right to be pious or condemning toward those who live now at our old address. Instead, we should remember that we once lived there and bound just as they.  We should never foget the heart-ache of the misery of sin.  We should with empathetic hearts extend the message of hope found only in the gospel of Jesus Christ to them. Again, let us never forget from where we came.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Praising God for His Grace .................. in the Little Things

John 1:16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.

I mowed my lawn today. “Wow”, one may say  in a sarcastic tone;. or another question, “What’s the big deal?” Allow me to explain: it was  a big deal for me because I enjoy mowing my lawn. I enjoy the work, the quiet time, the joy of a job accomplished and a the blessing of a cared for lawn. Yet, the biggest reason it is a big deal to me is that over the past four months mowing my lawn has only been a thought and a desire to be longed for as I have been recuperating from a severe shoulder injury.  During this trial I have also vividly realized how big a deal it is to bathe myself, or to put on my socks by myself, or to be able to reach over and touch my wife at night.  

Until you are not able to do even the simple things you will never really understand how big of a deal they are and that each are a blessing of God.  Each blessing we enjoy, whether it big or small, is a provision of God’s grace.  My very salvation is by His grace as well as the ability to take another breath.  Our lives consist of God’s grace upon grace upon grace.  Sadly, we become so accustomed to the daily graces of God we fail to even consider them as such and therefore fail to give God the proper praise for the simple blessings of life.

David understood the reality of the blessing of God’s grace in even the little things as he proclaimed, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalm 34:1).  This proclamation was made at one of the darkest times of David’s life, but in these dark times he was able to see the beauty of life’s simple blessings and the reality of God’s unending grace.  In times of Paul’s greatest need Jesus reminded him, “My grace is sufficient for you”  and Paul would later say, “Therefore, I most gladly I would rather boast in my infirmities that the power of Christ would rest upon me” (2 Cor. 12:9).  Paul realized even his infirmities were measures of God’s grace, because through them he would experience the power of Christ.  Now, that’s heaven sent perspective.

We are taught of the generous blessings of being of child of God when John writes, “Of His fulness we have all received and grace upon grace” (John 1:16).  When we are saved we receive all of Christ and become the recipients of His unending grace.  Let us never fail to praise Him, even for the simple blessings of life.   Just a thought: if you can read this blog, then stop, and praise God for His grace.

I took a walk today.  Thank you Jesus for your grace.