Monday, October 8, 2012

Commands and Precepts

At Pilgrims Rest, I am doing three separate studies currently.

#1 is a verse by verse study of Exodus on Wednesday Nights.  We are in Exodus 20 this week and will be dealing with the first 4 of the 10 Commandments listed.  These are the commandments that are directed to our relationship to God.

#2 is a journey through the scriptures during our Sunday Morning Worship times.  It is called 'God's Story' and is a broadstroke journey that covers many of the themes and texts in the Bible...showing God's great plan of Redemption.  This week will be covering Exodus Chapter 20 as well as other parts of Exodus.  Again, the commandments.

#3 is my Sunday School/Small Group.  We have been going chronologically through the scriptures since Jan 1 and have just started the New Testament (last week).  This week's text includes the Sermon on the Mount which has much relation to the Commandments.

I love it when a plan comes together - especially when it isn't my plan!  Do the commandments cause you to stop and change things or do they cause action?  Do you see all of God's Word as His Commands to His People or just some of it?  Can you list all TEN?  Just wondering...

Monday, May 21, 2012

Judgment Here and Later

Often when we talk about judgment in church we talk about the kind that we can level at one another.  Sure, that is judgment and the Bible is clear on how we are to treat better advice exists than the Biblical text of 'Judge not lest ye be judged'.  That text has two-fold meaning:  1) our judgment of others can and will be met by a return of the favor from other individuals that see us doing it.  2) our judgement of others create a need for judgment from our God.

You remember the story of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18?  The king gives immeasurable mercy to his servant by forgiving his huge debt.  The servant turns to another who owes him a much smaller amount and instead of giving mercy he gives threats even jails the man until 'every penny is paid'.  The king (a picture of God) is told of this and rightly judges the unforgiving servant for his sin.

I wonder how often we must fall into this cycle before we will stop with our judgments and merciless attitudes on others?

I am studying the book of Habakkuk.  This prophet of God seems to be the only prophet that instead of giving a message to the people is recorded questioning God's judgment of God's people.  What is God's response?  He fully intends to use an evil nation (Babylon) to judge His own evil people (Judah) until they can learn to be faithful.  After all, He is grooming and preparing the nation of Judah to bring forth Messiah (Jesus) to save the entire world and they must not fall away from their faith before that time would come.

Lord, help me not to judge others but to instead turn that energy upon my own life.  Help me not to inspect others to see the 'fruit of their Christian Life' but instead to look and see if my own life is bearing fruit of Christ-likeness.

Let me remember that the little judgments that I pass here in this life have eternal significance.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


This week we are preparing for our 158th Anniversary Celebration that we are calling a Homecoming.  We are very excited to see friends and family from years gone by as well as get a chance to welcome guests and new folks in the community!

It's funny, because we will gather in a tent outside of our church building due to space (gathering at 10:30am for Worship if you were wondering).  So we are actually celebrating Homecoming with more meager comforts that our normal worship gathering.

Did you know there is a Homecoming in the future of every follower of Jesus that will be very little like this?  It will be an event of perfection and event of immaculate preparation...

Yet, our preparation for that day of Homecoming when we meet Jesus should be even more diligently prepared for!  We should spend much energy making sure that day is met with this greeting from our Lord - 'Well done, good and faithful servant'.

Many tell me that they have a bit of fear about the day when we meet the Lord face to face.  They are concerned with their destination or with what their life will have earned them.  Here is a verse for you if you feel this way - 'For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord'. (Romans 8:38-39 ESV)

See you at Homecoming this weekend at Pilgrims Rest and then I hope to see you at Homecoming that day when this world passes away and our new life begins in the New Heaven and New Earth!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Restraint vs. Action

Over the last few Millenia, many philosophers have wisely instructed 'don't do something to a person if you do not want it done to yourself'. Even the famous Chinese Philosopher, Confucius, said this very thing some 500 years before the Life of Christ. This truly is good advice.

In Matthew 7:12 Jesus teaches 'Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you'. At first glance, it might appear that Jesus was just giving the same advice as other wise men.  But, as is always the case with scripture, there is a powerful application when you dig into God's Word.

Confucius, and others, taught right living by restraint.  Think about what you would want and then 'don't do this and don't do that'.  Sure, you can find plenty of 'don'ts' in scripture, but Jesus teaches action through this Golden Rule.  Pro-actively do to others the way you would hope/like/expect them to do to you.  Jesus teaches action, not restraint.  Too often we wait and see what others will do and then perform based upon what we see.  Jesus teaches us to take the lead and act upon our faith which then puts others in the position of response towards that faith.  Now that is a challenge!

Today, look around and see what action you CAN take to improve your relationships.  All the Gospel of Jesus Christ to show itself in how you live, act, think and respond!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Lest we put the cart before the horse...

In a few short days we will celebrate the Glorious and Powerful Resurrection of Jesus Christ.  It is the exclamation point on the truth that Jesus is the Son of God that has complete victory over sin, death and hell.  It is, and should be, one of the greatest weekends of Worship in any christian's calendar.

However, the beauty of the Resurrection would be insignificant without the agony of the Cross.  It would be the equivalent of my Arkansas Razorbacks celebrating a National Championship in football (yes, I may be dreaming here) during a year that they were disqualified for violating the rules of the NCAA.

You see, the power of sin was ruling in the world and in the hearts of man.  All humanity stood condemned, in full violation of God's perfect law.  We were ineligible for relationship, for service, for life...scripture would call us 'dead in our trespasses and sin'.

If Jesus hadn't walked the Calvary Road then the debt wouldn't have been paid.  If Almighty God hadn't placed our sin upon His battered back then my sin (and yours) wouldn't have been nailed to that Old Rugged Cross.  If the God-Man (Jesus) hadn't poured out His love for you and I in this way then this coming Sunday would be as good of a day as any to go fishing or sleep in.  But, all those ifs fade away in light of what Jesus actually did - He completed/fulfilled all the requirements of the law by dying for you and I that day.

This week, let's stop and appreciate our Holy God and His Holy Sacrifice.  He is Worthy of that and much more!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Journey of Salvation

I have often thought of salvation of an 'event' but truly it seems better described as a journey.  Ofcourse, there is a moment in the life of a person where we come to God in earnest - asking for His gracious forgiveness - believing in His Son Jesus' life, death resurrection and return - claiming His Lordship over our lives.  However, it is a daily process of change and transformation that leads us closer to God.

Under the 'journey' idea, I think of a train.  I have been on a train many times during my business career - sometimes near the engine and sometimes near the caboose and other times nearer the middle.  Our Christian lives have different segments not unlike train-cars.  All part of one train going in one direction (hopefully).

It seems there is always a part of our trains that is the hardest to keep moving in the same direction.  One rebellious boxcar that desires to make its own way or even flat out stop in its tracks.  Sometimes our Christian walk is hindered in its growing by this 'weak link'.  Each of us have our own unique struggles and weaknesses but scripture teaches about a few that are held in common by a great many believers.  One is discussed in Matthew 6:19-24 - slavery to money, possessions and stuff. Read that passage and ask God to show you where you stand in this area.  With most of us, we can surely improve.  God calls us to have a heart for Him and His Kingdom and when our earthly treasure becomes our focus than we divert energies of our heart from Him to 'Stuff'.  Stuff never saved anybody and stuff is temporary.

Let's take an inventory of our 'journey' and see what train-cars need re-alignment to keep us moving along the tracks of a spiritual life following God Almighty!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Don't Act Up

Reality TV like 'The Bachelor'and  Popular Novels like 'The Hunger Games' - what do these have in common? It has become normal to act differently on the outside than we are on the inside.  We have been trained by our culture to do this and to expect it from others.

As it pertains to our spiritual lives this can be most dangerous.  It can break down the walls of trust between brothers and sisters in Christ.  It can certainly hinder our relationship to our God.  We can even fall into the trap of believing our Savior might also be this way - after all - everyone else is...

Rather than putting on an act, what if we simply acted in Faith?  That is the clear command in scripture.  It is this Faith that makes it possible to please God.  What if, when a person looked at you they saw you and took you completely at face value?  Rather than wondering what you were really about they could choose to believe what they see because you have a track record of not putting on.  I am challenged to do this.  You?