Lean not on your own understanding..


Proverbs 3:5,6

5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; What can we learn from these six words? Consider the writer of Proverbs, King Solomon. The wisest man who ever lived and the wealthiest as well, but his wisdom made plain to him that your trust should be in the Lord. Not in money, not in yourself, not in your job. Don’t trust your own wisdom, or your faith or your Bible, but in God alone! Don’t even lean on your own profession of faith in a church but make sure that you are leaning on God alone, on your faith in Him alone!

Living your life every day by trusting in the Lord alone is the very best way to live. If you are a believer in Jesus and His grace for salvation, make sure that you don’t despise His grace and live according to your own ways. God’s wisdom and His grace should lead you in every decision, especially major decisions, but also those that you don’t think might matter to Him. Why? Because every decision in your life should be filtered through God’s wisdom and grace!

Trust in Him in every small thing as well as big decisions. Trust in Him when you are tempted and tried in school or in daily living. No matter what you may be doing, ask Him to guide you in your decision, whether it is a big decision or a small decision. Listen to Him intently and don’t move in a direction which God doesn’t lead you in. God is always near to us and He has the power and the ability to give you the wisdom to accomplish whatever you have determined to follow His lead to do.

Your trust in God the Father, Jesus the Son, and God the Holy Spirit should be with “all your heart”, sincerely and fully trusting in Him to do His work in you and your life fully and completely! He is in charge and on the throne and if you have given Him your heart, then He is in control of your heart too. The phrase “with all thine heart” denotes a deep sincerity of faith, which is complete and total and humble. Not a faith which is jovial and off the cuff, treating God as a friend or your buddy, but a faith which knows its place in the presence of its Creator.

And lean not unto thine own understanding; What does this part of the verse mean exactly? Can we learn from these seven words? YES, we can! The Bible is the inspired Word of the Living God, our Creator, and our Redeemer! Every word is useful to each of us, whether we understand them all or not. Men should not depend upon their own wisdom and understanding, in the conduct of civil life, but should seek the direction and blessing of God, or otherwise will be severely disappointed; and, when they succeed, should ascribe it not to their own ideas and wisdom, but to the goodness and grace of God; for “bread” is not always “to the wise, nor riches to men of understanding” Eccl. 9:11
Men and mankind, should not listen to their own counsel, especially in any spiritual endeavor. Because unless your heart is guided by the Holy Spirit and your mind is set on the things of God rather than the things of mankind, you cannot truly trust your own “understanding”. The natural man, one who has not trusted in Jesus for his salvation, cannot understand the things of God, which is why, to many people, the Bible, and its wisdom don’t make sense at all. The understanding of men is darkened by sin and without the Light given to them by the Spirit of God through salvation, their own wisdom is dark and foreboding like the Earth before God’s light shone upon it.

“In all our ways, acknowledge Him”; What does this mean to us today? Simply put, know the Lord and follow Him in everything that you do. Consider that God is all around us, not like the pagans think of Him being in the rocks and the trees, but He is as close to you as your skin because He is your Creator! You are never far from Him because He is everywhere if you feel far away from Him it is because you moved…God did not.

Remember that He is near you at all times and acknowledge that He is where you are, regardless of the place or time. Develop a listening heart and a mind to listen to His prompting in your life. Go only where He directs you to and be sensitive to His leading in your life’s decisions. Remember “and he shall direct thy paths”; IF you will listen to His wisdom and follow His lead and leading in all that you do.

This is my sermon for tomorrow morning. I pray that you will glean some of God’s wisdom from it and take it with you.VineandBranches

Darkness and light


Cosmic-consciousness-alien-human-encounterHow is darkness defined in our world? In most of the world, it is defined by terrorism and violence and sometimes by the conditions in certain areas of our world. Particularly those which are called “third world” areas, where poverty and hunger is the norm for almost everyone. Life is hard enough in those areas without being hit with terrorism, but that happens all too often today as well.

So, why am I writing about this subject? I don’t live in a third-world country or scrounge for food because I or my family is completely destitute. So…what is the reason for me, a pastor, writing about darkness and light? It is because of the hope which we all have in Jesus. It is also because there are places, even in America, where kids and grown-ups do search through garbage for food. Why is this happening? Why is our culture and our so-called “Christian values” in America allowing this? Aren’t we supposed to help those who are hurting or less fortunate in society?

Yes, we are supposed to help those who are in these situations but many of those who are homeless either don’t want our help or they won’t accept it because of their pride. Homelessness is not new, but today people can’t just keep heading west to the mountains and disappear like they did before the Civil War. Jesus said that we should be His hands and feet in this world which is overrun with poverty and hopelessness. “Go into all the world and preach the gospel“. When He told His disciples and by extension the church to do this, the good news or gospel is that there is hope in Jesus for a new life and a changed life.

We are supposed to take His message of hope and healing to everyone, not just to our friends and family or those who attend church with us or those who live close by. So, why don’t we? Is it because we are uncomfortable telling others about what Jesus has done for us? Is it because we are afraid of what they might think of us?

Jesus gave the disciples and His church the command to go and tell others about Him and the gospel which gives every person hope of eternity and with their repentance they are forgiven of all of their sins. This is our mission, our purpose as Christians in this life. So..why do we ignore His mandate for us? Why do we choose to be Christians by giving our heart and life to Jesus and then sit down on our salvation like a cushion? Like it is a gold pillow which we can’t part with? We didn’t purchase our salvation, Jesus did that with His blood!

Your salvation and the good news of it is a GIFT which God gives to those He calls to be Christians so we can take it out into our workplace or other places in the world and give it away to others. That is our mission and our purpose in this life or at least the only one which makes a difference in each person’s life which accepts Jesus as their Lord and Savior!

Please, don’t ignore the commission which Jesus gave to each of us and our church because there are many who still need to hear it and our time is running short.

We are blessed


Blessings from God

We are the recipients of many blessings from our Lord and the Father, God. Yet, many don’t recognize them as such. We are blessed by having the strength to get up and praise Him with our lives each day. We are blessed with our family and our friends, whether they are saved by Jesus or not. We are blessed to live where we are and in the area that we live because God has a purpose for each of us here and now. Those who have suffered the loss of family or friends due to cancer or other disease are blessed because of God’s will in their lives to be here to carry on the work that He has given each of us to do.

11 For I know the thoughts that I think of you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. 12 Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. 13 And ye shall seek me, and find me when ye shall search for me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13

This was given to the prophet Jeremiah for the Israelites but the promise it also for us today. We, who are Christians, have been grafted into the family of God. We did not replace Israel as His chosen people, but we have been set apart to do His works on this Earth and in our place until He calls each of us home, whether by death or by taking us up with His church before the Tribulation.

Are we blessed by God? Yes, we are in many ways! By having the Bible, by being chosen as Christians and by being His witnesses in this fallen and angry world which doesn’t want to accept God’s truth.

Philippians 4:19
19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

These and many other verses were written by Holy Spirit inspired prophets and apostles which the Lord raised up in their day to tell people who God loved them despite the situation that they found themselves in. God doesn’t forget those He has called into His family, regardless of how you or I may feel at the time. Each of us goes through suffering and trials each day, yet we are given the strength by God to endure, our family is given the strength to endure to the end and that strength comes from God.

It is not our own will or our strength or money which gives us the blessings which we have..it is given to us by God to show Him to others around us. In our family, at our jobs, at any place where we eat or attend a play or the establishment, we  frequent to enjoy a meal. This is not a new message but it is one which God wants each of us to hear today and every day that we have in this life.

The blessings of God are given to us for His pleasure and for our good and they are given to us in ways that we may not recognize as a blessing at the time, but the blessing will reveal itself by some miracle which we can recognize because it is given by God and not by a physician but maybe through a physician’s hand or treatment in our lives.

Seek Him out in your life, today, because this is the day that you are given. God gives us each one more day to accomplish His will in our lives and through the words which we say or our actions in trials because by living our lives as a testimony to His grace and mercy, others may see Him in us and may come to a saving knowledge of Jesus our Lord.

As it was said by a servant of our Lord in World War 2, “Let me save just one more, Lord”; shouldn’t we be as bold in the days which we live in today? If by our words or actions we can cause someone to be saved by Jesus by seeing Him in our lives, just one more person will be welcomed into God’s family and be celebrated in Heaven by the angels and welcomed by our Lord when that time comes.

This is the sermon that I am preaching this morning. I pray that whoever reads this will seek out the Lord and find Him so that one more might be saved. Amen

Living for Christ


I have seen some teaching online where some people, who may be preachers, are saying that the teaching of “God loves us, regardless of our heart’s position” is a lie. For one thing, God wouldn’t have sent His Son to redeem mankind IF He didn’t love us ALL! Whether we have given our hearts to Him or not, God loves us. Jesus didn’t come to Earth for a few people’s souls, He came to bring the possibility of salvation to everyone. He wouldn’t have come to do this if God didn’t love each person on this Earth.

Remember, God is the Father, Jesus is the Son, the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. So, if God loves His creation enough to send His Son to redeem mankind, I  believe that God’s love covers ALL of mankind. Mankind is everyone, no specific nations or cultures or religions and regardless of time! God’s love includes every person which is why He sent Jesus in the first place.

Another disturbing part of our world today is that we try to label people whether they adhere to a good or bad religion or doctrine. While this may be a good idea for security it is not a good idea for people following Jesus. We don’t live in a world where there is a distinct line separating good and bad (evil), even if that is what Jesus taught. The world sees things as black, white or gray. The problem with thinking like this is that black and white being equal in the world, which they are not, these two sides also don’t mix producing the so-called gray area.

Just as there aren’t skeletons or fossils of the forms of life as they evolve, there also aren’t any demons or angels who aren’t evil or good but somewhere in between.

There is and always will be a distinct line between good and evil, black and white, and I am not speaking of a race but the intent of those in our world. We don’t have an option of sometimes good, sometimes evil…you either are or you are not. While it is true that there are people who aren’t Christians but they do good things with their time and money, that is not the same thing.

Yes, we can be good to each other, regardless of our belief or non-belief in a God, but the difference between the actuality of belief and non-belief is in our core, our heart and that is reflected in our behavior toward those around us. Reflecting our internal beliefs to the world is what Christians should be doing, making sure that others see more of Jesus rather than us.

Carrying Jesus in your heart and in your life is part of living as a Christian, having a belief in Him is part of that. Life as a morally good person is wonderful, but your life could have so much more of an eternal effect if Jesus was a part of it.

 

Who came so long ago?


Nativity-29It was in fulfillment of prophecy that He came. God gave the Word to Isaiah many hundreds of years prior to His birth.

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

Our Savior, the Lamb of God, came as a baby into this world to live as we do and to die as a sacrifice which we could not do. He gave His life to pay for all of our sins so that we could have an eternal relationship with God in eternity. Also, because giving our lives and our hearts to Him in believing that He did this for us, we can live for Him in this life and tell others about His sacrifice for our lives.

Jesus, the Son of God, came to place His life in the Father’s hands to pay for our sins and He did exactly that by being a sinless and spotless Lamb give as a willing sacrifice for all of our sins. Here is a link to learn more about the prophecies which He fulfilled in order to be the One prophesied in Scripture.

Salvation comes no other way than by belief in Jesus and the atonement which He provided for us. He did this willingly and not under compulsion so that the prophecy would be fulfilled in His death, burial, and resurrection! Please don’t ignore this gift which was given to each of us IF we will believe in Him and repent of our sins to follow His example in our lives until He returns.

Is your faith no better than Satan’s?


heaven-or-hell-eternal-destinyKinda sounds a bit weird, doesn’t it? Does Satan have faith at all? Well, yes and no. He believes that Jesus is the Son of God, but not through faith. The demons which Jesus told to come out of the man in the tombs called Him the Holy One of God, so they knew Who He was. What is interesting is that many people in the church know Who Jesus is and they believe intellectually that He is the Son of God, but that is not a saving faith in Jesus. Consider someone who has read the Bible from cover to cover, but they did not read it with an attitude of faith or belief and they didn’t believe in the God Who inspired the writing of it. How do you think that they would see the information that they took into their brains?

Mostly the information which they may have learned will be just knowledge, head knowledge not saving or believing knowledge. Satan knows the Scriptures because he was around when it was written but knowledge and faith are two different sides of a coin and they never meet! If you didn’t feel a compulsion to repent or a call of the Holy Spirit, it wouldn’t matter if you memorized all of the gospels! The knowledge in them would be just words from a rabbi or teacher and nothing more.

Faith and belief are part of being a Christian but if you can’t joyfully proclaim that He is your Savior and be truly happy about that news, then you may not be any closer to Jesus than Satan is. Our Creator and our Savior is Jesus the Christ and being glad that He is your Savior is part of the proof that the Holy Spirit gives you! If your knowledge of Him only goes to the point of being in church and hearing the sermons, then you truly need to get to know Him better!

God loves each of us and doesn’t want us to be punished in hell because we didn’t give our hearts to Him. The message of salvation and the love that God expressed through Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross is the most excellent way of showing that love to all of us. Life is more than just living here day by day because your life doesn’t end when you die! Jesus spoke of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob because they are alive in eternity and we will be too…if we believe in Him and accept Him as our Savior. We can enjoy meeting and get to know the people that we have only read about in the Bible in eternity!

Those in the world who only know Jesus as a prophet or a teacher and don’t want to know Him as their Savior will not enjoy eternity. They will be in hell with Satan and the demons because of rejecting the Savior in this life. There is no party and no kingdom to rule with Satan, so eternity will be punishment and absolutely no fun at all.

Can you be useful to God?


UsefulVesselThere are questions about whether we can be used by God in this life, particularly when many of us are kinda broken in our lives. Some of us due to broken homes or broken marriages or families, then others are broken due to their jobs being stressful enough that they can’t leave the stress at work. Then there are some who experience trauma in the form of physical trauma from being in a war zone and sometimes the trauma is mental from many different sources.

So, in many ways, almost all of us are broken in one way or another. Some of us are more broken than others, but with God all things are possible. I mean, even a small piece of a crayon will still color a picture if you can hold onto it. God has a way of using your brokenness in ways that we can’t imagine and He can use it to His Glory! We may not think that we are useful, but I can guarantee you that God can use your gifts and your talent in ways that you haven’t thought of yet!

Each of us has many gifts and talents which God gave to us. Sometimes we don’t find out what those talents and gifts are until we are forced to by our circumstances. Occasionally, those circumstances take us to a point where we can only look up to God and ask Him to show us what we can do because we don’t feel like we can do anything. Then, there are those times which we have all had when we are down and depressed and feeling as if the whole world is crushing us and all we want to do is…let it.

Sometimes we are so broken in spirit and in our lives until we look for a way out, any way out and God is the only One who can actually help us become better, not only for us but for Him too. Can we be useful in God’s Kingdom even when we feel broken and useless? Yes, but it takes prayer and dedication to Jesus, as well as the study of God’s Word to bring you into a real working relationship with Him.

We are His Creation and He knows each of us far better than we know ourselves. He knows what we can do and the gifts which each of us has even if we haven’t found those gifts yet. So, don’t move away from God and service to Him and for Him. Seek Him out in your daily life with Him, learn from His Word, pray about your role in His Kingdom and then you can take your place in whatever He has laid out for you.

Superficial Christianity


Have you ever been accused of being a superficial Christian? Why do I ask? Because it seems that today that is exactly what most of professing “Christians” really are. They listen to sermons and maybe read a verse or two of Scripture and maybe even get baptized at some point but then they pull out their cell phones and forget what the sermon was about. Do they read the Bible after church and pray for God’s guidance in their lives on a daily basis? Only God knows the answer to that question. Are they real Christians in their hearts or just pretending? Still, only God knows for sure.

themissingpieceMany people play at church and many of them think that they are saved because until you can see a real change in their lives and hear it in their speech or in their actions, you truly cannot tell. Some of them can pretend so well that those around them may not be able to tell if there is a change happening in their lives or one which has already happened. Now, don’t read something into my writing which isn’t here! I am not saying that a certain percentage of people who claim Christ as their Savior are really not saved.

What I am saying is that there are a number of people who are very shallow in their Christianity. Like children, they are in the wading pool or maybe in ankle deep in the surf but they feel comfortable being there. Many, if not most, will never venture any further in their walk with Jesus. Which is a shame because being a Christian is more than having your own salvation, it is about telling or showing others what a life with Christ in it can be!

We have been given the most valuable gift in the history of the world…forgiveness and eternal life to go with it! Why in the world would you hold that like a spoiled child and not tell others how they can have it too? It didn’t cost us anything, yet it is the most precious gift that anyone could receive and because it is worth more than all the wealth in the world…why not give it away?

God has plenty of room in His Kingdom and all we should do is tell others what Jesus has done for us and how they can have this too! I know that the Truth in the Bible is not the truth that everyone wants to hear. Nor do they want to know about our Savior because they don’t believe that He is the Savior!

But consider this…if you did have access to one trillion dollars would you keep it all to yourself? No, the government would get a huge chunk of it in taxes, but even then you would have hundreds of billions of dollars left. There is only so much stuff that you can get before it is just…well stuff! Of course if you had all of that wealth, you would have more friends and kinfolk than you ever knew you had, so for me I would find a place back in the mountains somewhere and hide…but then what? You can’t hide forever!

Jesus told His disciples to go and tell others about the salvation which comes through belief in Him. We aren’t to beat them with a Bible or have a temper tantrum because they won’t listen, just tell them what He has done for you. If they want it great! If they decide that they have time to wait, maybe they will hear it another time or place. The problem we face today is that we are coming to the end of the age of Grace. I have no idea when He will come back and I have no idea when He will call the believers in the world up to Heaven as the Scriptures tell us.

So…what are you waiting for? Have you been guaranteed time on this Earth? Do you know for sure that you have another week or a month or maybe a year to live? I may die in a car wreck tomorrow, my wife may get killed at the place where she works, my son might get killed in a car accident next week. We are not guaranteed tomorrow. Think about it and then seek Him.13239362_10154180220593879_708192815796487421_n

Do you live in safety?


angelswatchingoverusIt is a scary thing to think that you are safe and then find out that you are not. When a gunshot goes off near your home or maybe someone breaks into your house and steals some of your possessions, your feelings of safety go away in an instant. Then what? Do you react to this and get a better door or a better lock for your door? Do you get a gun to protect yourself and your family? Should you get some training to use that gun in case it comes to that one day?

All of these questions are valid in our time today, but what good will it do? People who rob your home usually do so when you aren’t at home. If they confront you at the gas station, what good will that gun and training do if you can’t reach your gun? Safety in our world today is fleeting and tenuous and the only productive way to deal with it is to allow it! What??! Just back up and let them have your stuff!!

Yes. Stuff can be replaced up to a point, your wife and son and your own life cannot be!

Living in safety is an illusion in the best of times and the times that we live in are not the best of times. Yes, there are people who can pass a background check who snap and then they do a lot of damage and kill many people. Many times, we never find out why they did it because they either kill themselves or they cause the police to kill them and there is no real explanation for their violence.

Hate, racial tension, racist views of all kinds are sometimes considered to be the motivation of these tragedies. Sometimes even religious fanaticism is the reason behind them. Safety in our world today depends upon our diligence in being careful about our surroundings and how we present ourselves in those surroundings. Does prayer help? Yes, it does. Does being a Christian help you to be safe? I think so.

Why? Because God watches over those who belong to Him. He sends angels to watch over each of us who are part of His family. Their presence is felt by those intending to do us harm, whether they are demons or spirits or even people who are being influenced by those spirits. I don’t say this so that you can fly to Iraq or Iran and insert yourself into the area thinking that you won’t be harmed because of God’s Presence in your life, I mean lets use a little common sense!

God does want us to take His message to the world, to those who don’t know Him yet, but we don’t have to be idiotic about getting into a war zone or in an area where Christians are despised by most and killed on sight by some! There are places in America where I wouldn’t get into at night or day because of the violence which is happening in those areas either, but wouldn’t Jesus go there if He was here in person?

Yes, He would but He is the Son of God and our Creator! He can’t die! As I said, we aren’t supposed to be lacking wisdom in our endeavors for His Kingdom. But we are supposed to try to take Him to as many as possible while we have the time. God cares about us and our safety, but He cares about those who will die without knowing Jesus even more. Take Jesus with you everywhere. At work, at school, to the McDonald’s or whichever place you go out to eat, anywhere that people see you they should know that you are a Christian.

Am I asking you to get up an preach in all of these places? No, but give thanks for your food and someone will notice. Read a scripture on your Kindle app on your phone or on your Kindle. Wear a T-shirt which loudly proclaims that you belong to the King of Kings! Why? Because everyone around us is proclaiming their views and their beliefs and this is no time to be timid about being a Christian! Should we be radical about it? No! I don’t mean to march down the street with signs and shouting or bombs and such, but this is not the time to be the meek of the Earth either! God loves us and everyone else, but if you don’t tell them…how will they know that He loves them?

What is your comfort zone?


Many of us have one and sometimes it extends to the point of making someone else uncomfortable. Is that your comfort zone? Would you extend your own story into someone’s life if they asked you about your life? What if they just wanted to start a conversation? Would you listen to them or would you walk away or make an excuse to get away from them?

VineandBranchesWe are tasked with getting out of our comfort zones each day. Some of us more than others, but at some point we do step out of our “zone” during the day either at work or at the grocery store on an airplane or a bus. We will come into contact with a person who needs to hear something from us and that is where the voice of God speaks up and tells us to talk to that person or this one!

Are you comfortable enough to say something to them? Will you say what God wants to say to them? Regardless of your feelings about talking to people, God has given you a voice to use for Him, so do that. While it is true that many of us are introverts and like to spend the day away from people, some of us don’t have that luxury. God loves you and the person sitting next to you on the plane or the bus. He also loves the drunk who is passed out on the corner and the lady who is pushing an old buggy around with all of her possessions in it.

Will you talk to them? Pray about it and if the chance comes up, don’t hesitate, tell them what Jesus did for you and for them too. It doesn’t take a long, King James prayer, just one like, “Lord, give me the words to say. Amen”, will be sufficient. That is the same prayer that I pray when I begin writing here! Surely you don’t think I have come up with all of this on my own? I am not that good!!

I don’t claim to be a prophet or some Old Testament-type writer, but I do ask that God give the words which He knows are needed and necessary for our world and those who might read them here. Are you comfortable with telling others about your Savior? You should be. Why do I say that? Because I was very shy when I was much younger, and when I began preaching about seven years ago I was still shy. But, for the most part, God has helped me to get over that.

I don’t mean that I would be comfortable preaching before a huge crowd, but I am a lot more comfortable than I used to be.

We are capable of doing more for God’s Kingdom than we realize, if we will let Him use us in this ministry. Sometimes we just have to step outside our own comfort zone in order to be useful in the ministry which He knows that we can do.