Friday, February 24, 2012

You Can Be Set Free

Mark tells us of a troubled man who was possessed by demons (Mark 5:1-20). He was an outcast, living in the tombs and mountainous area. He appeared quite dangerous, breaking chains with his hands and cutting himself. I’m sure he was secluded here to get rid of him and he had given up hope of ever being normal again. He probably thought his tortured life would never change. But something interesting happened to him one day. He met Jesus.

The confrontation with Jesus was no accident. Jesus was there that day to set him free. This mad man, while wild and unpredictable in his behavior, was irresistibly drawn to Jesus (Mark 5:6). He feared the worst from his encounter with Jesus. Before Jesus asked for his name, the demon-possessed man spoke Jesus’ name. It was believed in that time that knowing the name of a person gave the knower power over that person. This trick didn’t work on Jesus, who is All-Powerful. Jesus asked for his name and the demons answered, “We are Legion for we are many.” If this description of over 6,000 demons was supposed to intimidate Jesus, it didn’t. No power can match that of the Lord and the demons knew they had met their match. What was impossible for this one troubled man to overcome was easy for Jesus. Not only did Jesus cast them out but He controlled their destination, hurling them into a herd of pigs. While disastrous for the pigs, it was ultimately liberating for the man.

Satan desires to destroy your life. It is his ultimate goal – to steal, kill, and destroy from you but Jesus came so you may have abundant life (John 10:10). God does have a wonderful plan for your life and Satan has a horrible one. Satan, knowing Jesus is coming again to ensure his demise (Revelation 12:7-9; 20:10), is trying his best to take as many people with him as he can. While the devil is at work, he is no match for God. Scripture says, “When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him" (Isaiah 59:19). God will not let Satan go unpunished or unchecked.

Jesus set this poor man’s life free. While he wants to join Jesus on His travel, Jesus sends him back to his home town to be a living example of Jesus’ power and freedom. Can you imagine what the people in his town thought when they saw him in his right mind giving praise to Jesus? What a testimony! What a transformation!

This isn’t just a story of the past but a reality for your present! Jesus can transform your life as well and raise a standard up against the devil in your life. Jesus’ liberating love can help you today. He already knows your name and the issues that are binding your life. He came to set the captives free and release prisoners from darkness. He wants to give you beauty instead of ashes, gladness instead of mourning, and praise instead of despair (Isaiah 61:1-7). Instead of trying to escape from the prison of sin only to flee in fear of being captured again you can be pardoned and set free. Your slate can be wiped clean and given a new beginning in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Joy of Trials

Someone once asked me what gives me inspiriation for what I write. What I write always comes through my personal time in Scripture, personal trials I learn from, and personal growth in Christ. My blog is hopefully a reflection of God at work in me and me alone. My prayers are that people will read my posts and God will speak to them about their circumstances as He works in me. This article is written as I walk through the trials of dealing with difficulty with my aging parents (whom I'm praying God will heal). I pray you find hope and encouragement from this:

Ever had tough times in this life? If not, just wait. I pray that none of you have extreme difficulty in this life but sometimes tough times come. All of us, if we could, would design the ideal life. Things like conflict, hardship, pain, suffering, and trials would be avoided. Sometimes, God has purpose in the storms of our life. We have to remember Nahum 1:7, “The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.”

Moses was someone who had a few tough times during his life. He fled after a murder, wandered in the desert for years, and led millions of people who whined and complained for forty years. Moses found out how to deal with the trials of life and took them on boldly. God had called him in Exodus 3 to lead the Israelites out of bondage. But a calling does not eliminate trials. Pharaoh must have been ruthless and intimidating. But Moses stood before him ten times unwilling to give up. Each time a different plague was sent, Pharaoh made it harder for the Israelites and they in turn were ungrateful for Moses’ efforts.

Moses didn’t give up when opposition arose though. Eventually the Israelites were set free. Moses endured. Hebrews 11:27 tells us he kept his focus on God who is unseen instead of Pharaoh who was seen. In the midst of trials, Moses remembered his calling and God’s faithfulness. God gave him victory.

Romans 8:28 tells us all things work out for the good of those who love God and are called to do His will. It didn’t say everything would just work out for anyone but only those who trust in God and are called by Him. It didn’t mean the problem would go away either. God’s love and calling overshadows the trials and problems of this world. Someone told me recently, “remember what Scripture says: ‘this too shall pass’”. I quickly reminded them that that was not a Bible verse. Sometimes we go through trials because they are vehicles on which God’s calling and character are built in our lives. When tough times surface, ungodly attitudes and habits often do as well. During a tough time the Holy Spirit can refine your rough edges and grow you in the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Hard times can also bring us closer to God as we realize our inability and dependence on Him. Trials can increase our companionship with the Father.

Some of our problems are brought about by our sins (Proverbs 13:15). Others come by doing what is right (2 Timothy 3:12). Trials are part of life on this earth. James 1:2-3 reminds us to be joyful about the various trials that come our way because the trying of our faith produces patience, maturity, and wisdom. Psalm 119:71 also reminds us that trials keep us from arrogance: “It is good for me that I have been afflicted: that I might learn Your statutes”. God does not create or cause evil (i.e. Psalm 136:1; 1 Timothy 4:4), but if the evils of this world could be seen in right perspective, believers would grow closer to God in the midst of the storm while waiting for Him to calm them as well.

Friday, February 10, 2012

A Makeover For The Maker?

In the beginning, God made humans in His image (Genesis 1:26-27). Since then, man has been trying to reverse this and give God a makeover. Instead of becoming more like Christ and allowing God to change us (2 Corinthians 5:17) sinful man has been creating their own image of God. This, according to Scripture, is creating a false god or idol. Many want God to be “feel-good”, buddy-buddy, user-friendly, politically-correct god that fits best our selfish desires and needs. God’s Word, which accurately describes the nature of God, has been sidelined to compromising standards and popular beliefs. God has been given a makeover to make many feel better about their sin.

Statements about a reinvented God abound today. “God accepts me even if I don’t live up to the truths of His word. Jesus is my homeboy. God wants me to be happy. God doesn’t want me to feel guilty about my chosen lifestyle. How could a loving God send anyone to hell?”

When people lack a relationship with God they tend to recreate His nature, mostly because they do not know Him. When Moses went to meet with God on Mt. Sinai, the Israelites replaced God with an image of a golden calf. Moses was their first idol. When he was gone, they needed something else to worship. Instead of waiting on God’s instructions they invented their own god.

Making God more politically correct to promote perverted morals is idolatry. Not being comfortable with what God’s Word says used to be called conviction of the Holy Spirit. The intent is to remind people of the holiness of God and that we, too, are called to be holy (1 Peter 1:16). Conviction of sin requires repentance, not reinvention. Instead of submitting to the creator, we attempt to become the creator. The thought is if people can reinvent God or His standards then they can comfortably live any way they want and do anything they please.

Instead of being fed truth, those who choose their sin over God’s standards exchange it for a lukewarm diet of rotten doctrine bent on appealing the masses. It’s like picking and choosing which of God’s divine characteristics and standards you want and disregarding the others. God’s nature and Word are not a buffet to be picked over. You can’t just stroll up to them, pick what you want and disregard the rest. He is not an รก la carte God. You either submit to all of His standards and nature or none of them. You cannot make amendments to God’s law.

A watered-down faith disables the work of the Holy Spirit. Self replaces conviction. Attempting to make yourself feel good about your sin is turning yourself into the idol to be worshipped. God is transformed into a non-judgmental, affirming best-bud. But Scripture says He doesn’t change. If this is true, then why are we trying to change Him? In Revelation 1:8, God says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega.” Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

A relationship with Jesus Christ by reading, understanding, and obeying His complete Word is the only way to keep from veering off the straight and narrow path. Only God can reveal to you the deceptions, manipulations, and lies from Satan. Believers must be able to discern a counterfeit faith from the truth. Satan desires you to be blind and delusional so you will be in bondage. I pray you will search the Scriptures and know the true God in a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

My Heart: Christs Home

Read this and WOW! By Robert Munger about 1954. Beautiful illustration of making you heart a home for Christ. Don't miss this. ---

After Christ entered my heart and in the joy of that new-found relationship, I said to him, "Lord, I want this heart of mine to be yours. I want to have you settle down here and be perfectly at home. Everything I have belongs to you. Let me show you around and introduce you to the various features of the home that you may be more comfortable and that we may have fuller fellowship together." He was very glad to come, of course, and happier still to be given a place in the heart.


The first room was the study -- the library. Let us call it the study of the mind. Now in my home this room of the mind is a very small room with very thick walls. But it is an important room. In a sense, it is the control room of the house. He entered with me and looked around at the books in the bookcase, the magazines upon the table, the pictures on the wall. As I followed his gaze I became uncomfortable. Strangely enough, I had not felt badly about this before, but now that he was there looking at these things I was embarrassed. There were some books there that his eyes were too pure to behold. There was a lot of trash and literature on the table that a Christian had no business reading and as for the pictures on the wall -- the imaginations and thoughts of the mind-- these were shameful.

I turned to him and said, "Master, I know that this room needs a radical alteration. Will you help me make it what it ought to be-- to bring every thought into captivity to you?"

"Surely!" he said. "Gladly will I help you. That is one reason I am here. First of all, take all the things that you are reading and seeing which are not helpful, pure, good and true, and throw them out! Now put on the empty shelves the books of the Bible. Fill the library with scriptures and meditate on them day and night. As for the pictures on the wall, you will have difficulty controlling these images, but here is an aid." He gave me a full sized picture of himself. "Hang this centrally," he said, "on the wall of the mind." I did and I have discovered through the years that when my thoughts are centered upon Christ himself, his purity and power cause impure imaginations to retreat. So he has helped me to bring my thoughts into captivity.

May I suggest to you if you have difficulty in this little room of the mind, that you bring Christ in there. Pack it full with the Word of God, meditate upon it and keep before it ever the immediate presence of the Lord Jesus.


From the study we went to the dining room, the room of appetites and desires. Now this was a very large room. I spent a good deal of time in the dining room and much effort in satisfying my wants.

I said to him, "This is a very commodious room and I am quite sure you will be pleased with what we serve here."

He seated himself at the table with me and asked, "What is on the menu for dinner?"

"Well," I said, "my favorite dishes: old bones, corn husks, sour cabbage, leeks, onions and garlic right out of Egypt." There were the things I liked -- worldly fare. I suppose there was nothing radically wrong in any particular item, but it was not the food that should satisfy the life of a real Christian. When the food was placed before him, he said nothing about it. However, I observed that he did not eat it, and I said to him, somewhat disturbed, "Savior, you don't care for the food that is placed before you? What is the trouble?"

He answered, "I have meat to eat that you know not of. My meat is to do the will of him that sent me." He looked at me again and said, "if you want food that really satisfies you, seek the will of the Father, not your own pleasures, not your own desires, not your own satisfaction. Seek to please me, and that food will satisfy you." And there about the table he gave me a taste of doing God's will. What a flavor! There is no food like it in all the world. It alone satisfies. Everything else is dissatisfying in the end.

Now if Christ is in your heart, and I trust he is, what kind of food are you serving him and what kind of food are you eating yourself? Are you living for the lust of the flesh and the pride of life-- selfishly? Or are you choosing God's will for your meat and drink?


We walked next into the drawing room. This room was rather intimate and comfortable. I liked it. It had a fireplace, overstuffed chairs, a bookcase, sofa and a quiet atmosphere.

He also seemed pleased with it. He said, "This is indeed a delightful room. Let us come here often. It is secluded and quiet and we can have fellowship together."

Well, naturally, as a young Christian I was thrilled. I could not think of anything I would rather do than have a few minutes apart with Christ in intimate comradeship.

He promised, "I will be here every morning early. Meet with me here and we will start the day together." So, morning after morning, I would come downstairs to the drawing room and he would take a book of the Bible from the bookcase. He would open it and then we would read together. He would tell me of its riches and unfold to me its truth. He would make my heart warm as he revealed his love and grace towards me. They were wonderful hours together. In fact, we called the dining room the "withdrawing room." It was a period when we had our quiet time together.

But little by little, under the pressure of many responsibilities, this time began to be shortened. Why, I don't know, but I thought I was just too busy to spend time with Christ. This was not intentional, you understand; it just happened that way. Finally, not only was the time shortened, but I began to miss a day now and then. It was examination time at the university. Then it was some other urgent emergency. I would miss it two days in a row and often more.

I remember one morning when I was in a hurry, rushing down the steps, eager to be on my way.

As I passed the drawing room, the door was ajar. Looking in I saw a fire in the fireplace and the Lord sitting there. Suddenly in dismay, I thought to myself, "He was my guest. I had invited him into my heart! He had come as Lord of my home. And yet here I am neglecting him." I turned and went in. With downcast glance I said, "Blessed Master, forgive me. Have you been here all these mornings?"

"Yes," he said, "I told you I would be here every morning to meet with you." Then I was even more ashamed. He had been faithful in spite of my faithlessness. I asked his forgiveness and he readily forgave me as he does when we are truly penitent.

He said, "The trouble with you is this: You have been thinking of the quiet time, of the Bible study and prayer time, as a factor in your own spiritual progress, but you have forgotten that this hour means something to me also. Remember, I love you. I have redeemed you at a great cost. I desire your fellowship. Now," he said, "do not neglect this hour if only for my sake. Whatever else may be your desire, remember I want your fellowship!"

You know, the truth that Christ wants my fellowship, that he loves me, wants me to be with him, wants to be with me and waits for me, has done more to transform my quiet time with God than any other single fact. Don't let Christ wait alone in the drawing room of your heart, but every day find some time when, with the Word of God and in prayer, you may fellowship with him.


Before long he asked, "Do you have a workshop in your home?" Down in the basement of the home of my heart I had a workbench and some equipment, but I was not doing much with it. Once in a while I would go down and fuss around with a few little gadgets, but I wasn't producing anything worthwhile.

I led him down there.

He looked over the workbench and what little talents and skills I had. He said, "This is quite well furnished. What are you producing with your life for the Kingdom of God?" He looked at one or two of the little toys that I had thrown together on the bench and he held one up to me. "Are these little toys all that you are producing in your Christian life?"

"Well," I said, "Lord, that is the best I can do. I know it isn't much and I really want to do more, but after all, I have no skill or strength."

"Would you like to do better?" he asked.

"Certainly," I replied.

"All right. Let me have your hands. Now relax in me and let my Spirit work through you. I know you are unskilled and clumsy and awkward, but the Spirit is the Master-worker and if he controls your hands and your heart he will work through you." And so, stepping around behind me and putting his great, strong hands over mine, controlling the tools with his skillful fingers, he began to work through me.

There's much more that I must still learn and I am very far from satisfied with the product that is being turned out, but I do know that whatever has been produced for God has been through his strong hand and through the power of his Spirit in me.

Do not become discouraged because you cannot do much for God. Your ability is not the fundamental condition. It is he who is controlling your fingers and upon whom you are relying. Give your talents and gifts to God and he will do things with them that will surprise you.


I remember the time he inquired about the playroom. I was hoping he would not ask me about that. There were certain associations and friendships, activities and amusements that I wanted to keep for myself. I did not think Christ would enjoy them or approve of them so I evaded the question.

But there came an evening when I was leaving to join some companions -- I was in college at the time -- and as I was about to cross the threshold, he stopped me with a glance. "Are you going out?"

I answered, "Yes."

"Good," he said, "I would like to go with you."

"Oh," I replied rather awkwardly. "I don't think, Lord, that you would really want to go with us. Let's go out tomorrow night. Tomorrow night we will go to prayer meeting, but tonight I have another appointment."

He said, "that's all right. Only I thought when I came into your home we were going to do everything together. We were going to be partners. I want you to know that I am willing to go with you."

"Well," I said, "we will go some place together tomorrow night."

But that evening I spent some miserable hours. I felt wretched. What kind of friend was I to Christ, When I was deliberately leaving him out of my associations, doing things and going places that I knew very well he would not enjoy? When I returned that evening, there was a light in his room and I went up to talk it over with him. I said, "Lord, I have learned my lesson. I cannot have a good time without you. We will do everything together from now on."

Then we went down into the rumpus room of the house and he transformed it. He brought into life real joy, real happiness, real satisfaction, real friendship. Laughter and music have been ringing in the house ever since.


There is just one more matter that I might share with you. One day I found him waiting for me at the door. There was an arresting look in his eye. He said to me as I entered, "There is a peculiar odor in the house. There is something dead around here. It's upstairs. I think it is in the hall closet." As soon as he said the words, I knew what he was talking about. Yes, there was a small hall closet behind lock and key I had one or two little personal things that I did not want anybody to know about and certainly I did not want Christ to see. I knew they were dead and rotting things. And yet I loved them, and I wanted them so for myself that I was afraid to admit they were there. I went up the stairs with him and as we mounted, the odor became stronger and stronger. He pointed at the door and said, "It's in there! Some dead thing!"

I was angry. That's the only way I can put it. I had given him access to the library, the dining room, the drawing room, the workshop, the rumpus room, and now he was asking me about a little two-by-four closet. I said inwardly, "This is too much. I am not going to give him the key."

"Well," he said, reading my thoughts, "if you think I am going to stay up here on the second floor with this odor, you are mistaken. I will take my bed out on the back porch. I'm certainly not going to put up with that." And I saw him start down the stairs.

When you have come to know and love Christ, the worst thing that can happen to you is to sense his fellowship retreating from you. I had to surrender. "I'll give you the key," I said sadly, "but you'll have to open the closet. You'll have to clean it out. I haven't the strength to do it."

"I know," he said. "I know you haven't. Just give me the key. Just authorize me to take care of that closet and I will." So, with trembling fingers I passed the key over to him. He took it from my hand, walked over to the door, opened it, entered it, took out all the putrefying stuff that was rotting there and threw it away. Then he cleansed the closet, painted it, fixed it up, doing it all in a moment's time. Oh, what victory and release to have that dead thing out of my life!


Then a thought came to me. I said to myself, "I have been trying to keep this heart of mine clear for Christ. I start on one room and no sooner have I cleaned that then another room is dirty. I begin on the second room and the first room becomes dusty again. I am so tired and weary trying to maintain a clean heart and an obedient life. I just am not up to it!" So I ventured a question: "Lord, is there any chance that you would take over the responsibility of the whole house and operate it for me and with me just as you did that closet? Would you take the responsibility to keep my heart what it ought to be and my life where it ought to be?"

I could see his face lighten up as he replied, "Certainly, that is what I came to do. You can not be a victorious Christian in your own strength. That is impossible. Let me do it through you and for you. That is the way. But," he added slowly, "I am not owner of this house. I am just a guest. I have no authority to proceed since the property is not mine."

I saw it in a minute and dropping to my knees, I said, "Lord, you have been a guest, and I have been the host. From now on I am going to be the servant. You are going to be the Lord." Running as fast as I could to the strong box, I took out the title deed to the house describing its assets and liabilities, its situation and condition. Then returning to him, I eagerly signed it over to belong to him alone for time and eternity. "Here," I said, "here it is, all that I am and have forever. Now you run the house. I'll just remain with you as houseboy and friend."

He took my life that day and I can give you my word, there is no better way to live the Christian life. He knows how to keep it in shape and deep peace settles down on the soul. May Christ settle down and be at home in your heart as Lord of all.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Ministry Vs. Job

Some people have a job in the church.  Others invite themselves into a ministry. What's the difference you ask?

If you are doing it just because no one else will, it's a job. If you are doing it to serve the Lord, it's a ministry.

If you quit because someone criticized you, it's a job. If you keep on serving, it's a ministry.

If things don't go just like you wanted or expected, it's a job.  If they go even worse than that sometimes but you know God is bigger than circumstances and opposition, it's a ministry.

If problems keep sidetracking you, it's a job.  If problems arise but Jesus' resurrection is greater, it's a ministry.

If you constantly remind others of how much you give and sacrifice, it's a job.  If you realize all you have is not yours anyway and all for His glory and service, it's a ministry.

If you'll do it as long as it does not interfere with your other activities, it's a job.  If you are committed to staying even if it means letting go of other things, it's a ministry.

If you quit because no one thanked you or praised you, it's a job.  If you stick with it even though no one recognized your efforts, it's a ministry.

If you only see what you want to accomplish, it's a job.  If you see the whole vision and lay down your needs in light of the church being built, it's a ministry.

If it has to be how you want it when you want it, it's a job.  If you are willing to wait on the Lord and serve another's vision and plan, it's a ministry.

If you quit because of people, it's a job. If you stay because people are whom you serve no matter what, it's a ministry.

If you do it only when things are easy, it's a job.  If you sacrifice and do hard things, welcome to ministry.

It's hard to get excited about a job.  It's almost impossible not to get excited about a ministry.

If you do it expecting temporary reward, it's a job.  If your reward is in heaven, it's a ministry.

If Satan is quick to steal your joy, it's a job.  If your joy revolves around Christ and found only in Him, it's a ministry.

If your concern is success, it's a job.  If your concern is faithfulness and service, it's a ministry.

If you are in it for personal gain, it's a job. If you are in it for Kingdom gain, it's a ministry.

If you see yourself as someone who does more than others, it's a job.  If you see yourself as someone who serves others, even when no one else seems to be serving, it's a ministry.

If you see spreading the Gospel as a chore, it's a job.  If spreading the Gospel is the very foundation and motivation for what you do, it's a ministry.

If God calls you to a ministry, don't treat it like a job!

Lord, strengthen your servants and  move us to a true sense of ministry and service, through your grace and mercy. Amen.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Is It Wrong To Question God?

Is it wrong to question God? I was always told as a kid to never question God. But who could I ask tough questions to then? Who could I run to and get answers? I think those who would tell me this really meant to watch my motive in my questioning. Some would say to question the Bible or God Himself shows disbelief or even blasphemy.

Seeking answers from God concerning His word, direction, nature all revolve around one’s motive and attitude when asking questions. Pride, disobedience, rebellion, and anger are not good qualities to have driving your questions. But if we are asking questions to our Father with a heart that desperately and earnestly wants to understand and praise Him, He is always available and it is always appropriate. God does not want us to be confused, hurt, lacking, in need, or abandoned. He is compassionate and cares for us.

We should question to gain wisdom and understanding and not just get our own way. Remember Gideon? He is an example of questioning God wrongly. Judges 6 tells us Gideon was hiding and afraid of the Midianites. When an angel showed up (Judges 6:12), Gideon asked him a ton of questions that were out of line. Gideon said, “If the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, 'Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?' But now the Lord has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian." Gideon quickly questioned God’s nature – His power, promises, and provision.

God was patient and did not punish His questioning spirit. Instead, God gave Gideon a task to accomplish, was mightily used by God, and saw God’s goodness once he got past his own insecurities and selfishness. Many people in Scripture struggled and needed clarification from God. Men like Job, Moses and Thomas questioned God but God answered them because He knew their heart’s desire was to follow Him.

When our hearts are far from God our questions will be more demanding, invasive, and wrongly directed. Many of the Pharisees in Scripture questioned Jesus but only to prove Him wrong and hurt Him. This arrogant approach certainly does not originate from someone earnestly seeking direction from their Father. In the midst of confusion, chaos, and hurt you still can maintain a humble heart and avoid a self-righteous attitude toward God. Just because you have questions doesn’t give you the right to lose self-control and Christ-like character. You must also always honor God even if the answer is delayed or not what you were expecting.

God will answer you when you seek Him. But you must be willing to listen and receive His answer, not just vent frustrations and disappointments. Scripture is one of the best ways to understand and gain answers. His Word shows us next steps, gives us wise advice, and sooths the worst of hurts. Being mad, demanding an answer, complaining, feeling sorry for yourself, and a negative spirit certainly are not Christ-like qualities.

James 1:5 says God will give you wisdom if you ask. Matthew 7:7 shows the progression of asking, seeking, and knocking to gain answers. Hebrews 4:16 says we can boldly approach God’s throne and receive help in a time of need. Asking God questions is right but we must do it in an honoring way with a heart desperately seeking God’s answers.