Wrong

 

But when Cephas (Peter) came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly wrong. – Galatians 2:11

 

I sometimes wonder if I didn’t know a thing about religion right now and I spent a few months just studying them, which one I would choose?  All seem to offer some sort of promising afterlife for obedience and some sort of diminished existence for disobedience.  Most people believe that our lives go on past this existence in some form or fashion.  The most convenient thing to believe is that I will simply cease to exist once I draw my last breath, for then it doesn’t really matter how I live my life . . . I can do what I want without any eternal accountability.  I don’t really have enough faith to believe that.  So which god, gods, or philosophy is right?

 

There is this scene in Steve Groll’s book, “Beyond the Dead Forest,” where a witch forces two children to pick from a thousand different gods.  The “gods” are really scarecrows with different names.  All the kids have to do is take a knife, cut themselves, and offer a few drops of blood on the ground of the one they choose.  Had they chosen, it was really a trick so the witch’s wolves could easily track down the children later on.  Fortunately, they didn’t choose any of the gods and ended up setting them on fire and destroying them all.  They knew that those scarecrows weren’t real gods.  They weren’t even good scarecrows because thousands of crows rested upon them.  All of them were false gods.

 

For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. – John 3:16

 

When Jesus came on the scene, there were plenty of religions.  Scarecrows abounded, if you will.  The Romans considered Caesar God.  Even the Jewish people had begun to worship a set of manmade rules in place of the true God that they claimed to know.  Everyone on the planet, just like today, had a belief in either something or nothing.

 

Yet, here comes Jesus on the scene giving His life as a ransom for many.  Here’s the thing:  If every religion is right and everyone is going to be okay in the end, why in the world would He do this?  Is He basically saying, “There were a thousand ways to a better afterlife, now I have made it one thousand and one”?  In John 14:6, Jesus doesn’t claim to be a way, but claims to be the way.  He is either right or wrong.  He is either lying to us, or He is telling us the truth. I don’t think there is any middle ground, and there certainly isn’t room to believe that salvation can come through any other means.  At least, not if you believe His words.

 

Paul and Peter were possibly the two greatest preachers at the same time in the early church.  They both spread the gospel that salvation came to all people only through Jesus.  Yet, Peter got sidetracked a little bit when a group of people who followed Jesus also wanted to add some of the old rules back into the mix.  Peter didn’t confront or condemn these additions; therefore Paul confronted Peter “to his face. Because clearly he was wrong.”

 

Now, if Peter was wrong . . . he was wrong.  If Peter can be wrong in his beliefs, then we certainly can, too.  I believe there is nothing more important on this planet than what we believe.  It is appointed unto man once to die, and afterwards to face judgment (Hebrews 9:27).  Are you ready?  How confident are you in what you believe?

 

Praise God my salvation is not based on my performance.  My performance absolutely stinks sometimes.  In fact, I would hardly give myself a passing grade as I type this.  I don’t even live up to my own standards, much less God’s.  Therefore, I will place my trust in Christ alone.  Salvation is free and cannot be earned.  The only rule with God is don’t make it about rules.  Make it about knowing Jesus.  If you know Him, you will fall in love with Him.  If you fall in love with Him, you will want to keep His commands.

 

Do not be wrong about this! Salvation comes by putting your faith in Christ alone.  Nobody will talk his or her way into heaven.  Salvation will never be earned through good deeds.  It can only be received by faith.

 

Don’t waste another moment. This life is a vapor that appears for a moment and then vanishes away.  Pray!  Make sure your life is in His hands.  There is nothing on earth more important.  He doesn’t say at the end of our lives, “Depart from me, you didn’t behave!”  He says, “Depart from me, I never knew you.”  Please, please, please get to know Him.  Introduce yourself today.

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Simplicity of Christianity

 

Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud, it does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.  – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

 

So here lately, it is like I have been just this beginner Christian.  God is humbling me greatly right now.  I know God’s Word says that we should humble ourselves . . . I guess when we don’t do what is asked of us; He steps in and does the job for us.  For some reason, I am predisposed to think that if God intervenes and has to do something for me, it is always going to be painful and difficult . . . the “hard way” if you will.  I guess these misconceptions just got planted in me when I was younger.  God is using this season to teach me just how kind, loving, and merciful He is.  I think it is slowly circling me back around to childlike faith.

 

Anyway, I was watching this preacher teach a group of about 10 kids this week.  He did the simplest message that spoke to my own heart. First, he went through 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.  Then, he said God is love.  Since that is true, we can put God’s name in there:  God is patient, God is kind, God does not envy, etc.  It is crazy how quickly I can see God as none of those things. Even in this season of feeling like I’m not finishing the school year strong, or just feeling like I am not doing Christianity well, I feel like God stands ready to punish me.  I feel like I deserve to be punished.  Yet, God in His great mercy is teaching me the opposite. He is teaching me that He really is all that 1 Corinthians 13 says He is.  He is protecting me, still trusting me, still persevering with me, still not easily angered with me, still loving me, and still pouring His truth into me. What a great God!!!

 

Then, the preacher put my name in there and asked some questions.  Is Adam patient?  Is Adam kind? Does Adam envy?  He went through the whole list.  I want you to read the verses at the top of this devotional and put your name in the place of love.  I found out really quickly that I am not consistently any of those things. Even when I thought of the times I felt like I got one or two of them right, it was still God who prompted me to do right.  Left on my own, I am none of them.

 

Herein lies the simplicity of Christianity.  Since I cannot be any of these things on my own, I need God.  He sent His Son to die for me so that I could be forgiven. After I asked Him to forgive me, He placed His Holy Spirit inside of me so that He could begin to teach me how to love, be kind, be patient, etc.  On this side of eternity, I don’t think I will ever get these virtues down pat, but I do feel like I am growing in the right direction.

 

It took Him just a week to make the moon and the stars

The Sun and the Earth and Jupiter and Mars

How loving and patient He must be

He’s still working on me.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Boasting in Weakness

 

That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses.  – 2 Corinthians 12:10 (NLT)

 

This past Sunday, this past week, really, I had a unique experience. When it comes to preaching, I take it super seriously.  There is something in me that thinks if I take it lightly, or if I even try to speak on God’s behalf without being clean, I will be killed.  I know that sounds extreme, but Exodus 19:12 talks about God’s holy mountain, and how any person or any thing will die if it gets too close. Every time, right before I step in the pulpit, my mind pictures this mountain.  Just for a moment, I wonder if this will be the last time.

 

Now, this past Sunday, I didn’t take it seriously.  All last week, it was like my mind was just numb.  My regular job just drained me.  I was sleeping in a lot, and not getting up and studying.  Even when I did, it was like I was getting nothing out of reading the Word, so instead of persevering, I just set an alarm on my phone and slept some more.

 

When the weekend rolled around, it didn’t get any better.  I knew Sunday was coming, but I didn’t amp up my efforts.  Normally, I open the “Word of Promise” Bible app and let it read aloud to me while I physically read the Bible I use to preach.  Instead, I was opening Facebook, studying crypto currency, and dissecting my golf swing.  This went on all weekend.  By the time Sunday morning rolled around, I was so ill prepared.

 

When I got to church, the youth band did praise and worship.  We had so many visitors.  I was so afraid because I just didn’t feel right with Him . . . I felt so unclean.  Then, we sang:

 

I’m still in your hands

This is my confidence,

You’ve never failed me yet.

 

I knew what was going on.  God, in His sovereignty, was humbling me.  I began to think of the times I walked up confidently, not because of God, but because I had studied and practiced so much.  I saw that this was just as vile as what I had done this week. In fact, I saw my overall self as vile, but supernaturally cleaned up and empowered by a great, mighty, and living God.

 

I went to the altar as the youth band sang:

 

Oh the overwhelming

Never ending reckless love of God

It chases me down

Fights till I’m found

Leaves the 99

I couldn’t earn it

I don’t deserve it

Still you give yourself away.

 

As I prayed, I didn’t know what to say, so I prayed in tongues.  I have no idea what I was saying, but did it ever feel wonderful.  I walked to the pulpit, and once again, just like He has done for me hundreds of times now, He came through for me.  He helped me. He empowered me.  He spoke through me.

 

I don’t know why I’m typing this out as a Wednesday Morning Devotional. All of this has just increased my love for Him.  It had absolutely nothing to do with my own efforts.  It was all Him.  The love I have for Him was given to me.  He gave it to me.  I hope and pray that someone opens his or her heart and mind and understands just how great and wonderful He is.  There is and never will be anyone like Him.

 

And we get to continue this relationship forever!

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Original Christian

 

The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. – Acts 11:26

 

Today, people refer to themselves as Christians.  It is a term that we use to explain what we believe. Unfortunately, to the unbelieving world around us, it has come to mean hypocrisy, bigotry, hatred, intolerance, and a lot of other negative words.  I can’t say that I completely disagree with the world’s perspective because an awful lot of the meanest people I know actually call themselves Christians.

 

Originally, it was not like this.  When Paul started making disciples at Antioch, they changed, just like Christians are supposed to.  They changed so much that the unbelieving world around them said, “These people are like little Jesus’s running around here.”  They became so much like Him that others associated them with Him.

 

Isn’t that the goal?  Shouldn’t we be so much like Him that the world at the very least recognizes Him inside of us?  Nobody ever looked at Jesus and said that He didn’t love people.  In fact, He got in most of His trouble by helping people that most religious people thought shouldn’t be helped to begin with, or, if He did help, shouldn’t have been helped when they were helped.

 

Today, let’s you and I walk as He walked.  What if we tried to simply treat people like He treated people?  How long would it take for the unbelieving world to say, “It is like having a miniature version of Jesus walking around here!”

 

Would to God that this could happen again.

 

Lord, make me like you. 

 

Make me a little version of you.

 

Make me a Christian as it was defined in the first century.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

First Works

First Works

 

Repent and do the first works. – Revelation 2:5

 

So a few weeks ago, I was just feeling spiritually weak, almost spiritually dead.  More than anything, I just wanted to sit in church and let the Word somehow wash over me.  It was like one of those times where you just want to stand in the hot shower and let that blessed water just flow all over you.  That’s just the place I was in at the moment.

 

I went to one of two churches that have become my “safe havens” when I need to go.  To my disappointment, I didn’t check out the Facebook page.  If I had, I would have seen that they weren’t having a service that night.  I was just about to head home when my mind was flooded with what I used to do when I first started serving the Lord.  I used to go to any and all church services I could. I didn’t care about the denomination; I didn’t care about the stares when I walked in.  I just wanted to be around Bible teaching.

 

So, I breathed a prayer: “Lord, lead me somewhere that has a 7:00 service.”  I drove less than a mile when I came across Harvest Church.  I said, “Lord, what are the chances they have a 7:00 Bible study?”  Immediately after asking Him the question, I received the answer by looking at their sign. I pulled in and parked.

 

My heart started beating fast and hard.  I was nervous.  I thought to myself, “where did that come from?”  Sure enough, I remembered it used to pound pretty hard back in the day when I’d walk into unfamiliar territory.  When I opened the door, they had tables set up in a circular fashion so everyone could see everyone.  I immediately thought, “I must be walking in on a leadership team meeting or something.” So, I asked, “You guys having Bible study tonight?”  The pastor was so excited, “Yes we are!”  He immediately went and got me a study book and handed me everything I would need to be a part of the group.  Everyone was genuinely glad that I was there.  Also, I wasn’t even close to the latest person, which made me feel better for some reason.  God does use those late people!

 

The study was on prayer. I learned a lot from the study. Eventually, I plan on preaching a sermon at Lifeline on what I learned.  When hard questions were asked, the pastor gave great answers.  I could tell he was a real deal man of God just looking to help people grow in the Word and in their Christian faith.  I’m glad I met him and got to see with my own eyes what he was all about.  I left with a renewed vigor to be all about what I needed to be about.

 

It was so nice to do the things I did at first.  I couldn’t believe it had been about 20 years since I just randomly picked a church, walked in, and participated in their church service.  I definitely may do some more of this.  Thank you Harvest Church and Pastor Josh Bridges for being all about the King’s business.

 

Later

 

Adam

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Good Friday Contemplation

 

Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and He will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? (Matthew 26:53)

 

It is Good Friday.  My plans have been thwarted.  My plan was to play golf here in about an hour and a half. As the raindrops pound my house pretty hard, that is probably not happening, and that is ok.  I can’t help but think of myself as little as 12-15 years ago, this would not have been ok.  In fact, this would have ruined my whole day.  My attitude would have just stunk and I wouldn’t have been pleasant to be around . . . at all.

 

As it stands now, it’s not so bad.  In fact, I realize I didn’t post a WMD this past Wednesday, so I thought I’d write a special Good Friday WMD.  I know, I know, a Good Friday Wednesday Morning Devotional is impossible.  Fortunately, with God all things are possible!

 

It is Good Friday. For the longest time I used to think “It is when Jesus died.”  Now, I think of three moments that still teach me to this day.

 

The first moment is actually from the movie the Passion of the Christ.  It isn’t in the Bible, but I think about it every Good Friday ever since I saw the movie.  Jesus is about to take the first lashes from the cat-o-nine tails.  He is knelt down, hands bound.  I imagine every other prisoner up until this moment in history stuck in this position screamed for mercy and begged to not suffer what they were about to endure.  Jesus simply looks up to the Father and says, “My heart is ready.”  This makes me say so many times, “No matter what happens to me today, Father, I can take it.  I can take it for You, and I can take it for the others who need to see a heart yielded perfectly to You. Help me honor You with everything that I am.”

 

The second moment occurs when the soldiers asked Jesus if He was Jesus of Nazareth.  Here is what the Bible says:

 

When Jesus said, “I am He” they drew back and fell to the ground. (John 18:6)

 

This is such a small taste of the power of our God.  Look what He can do with just three little words.  What could He do with my words if I’ll perfectly yield my heart to Him and His will?

 

Lastly, and this has been probably my favorite verse for a long time.  Peter, who after walking with Jesus for three years still has so far to go, cuts a soldier’s ear off.  Peter acts just like 99.9999% of all people who say, “Nobody is going to mess with me, my friends, my family, my stuff, my rights, blah, blah, blah.”  We all stand so ready to inflict pain with either venomous words or powerful fists.  Yet, here is our Lord about to receive the ultimate injustice.  What does He say?

 

Are you not aware that I can call on My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen this way? (Matthew 26:53-54)

 

Jesus basically says, “I could be like you, Peter, and destroy, but I choose not to.”

 

What if we all did this? What if we yielded our hearts perfectly to God and He so changed us that we were able to humble ourselves and seek the greater good as our Lord, Master, God and Savior did?

 

It would do what it did all those years ago while He was here . . .

 

It would transform the world around us.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Moving Mountains

 

Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”  He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move.  Nothing will be impossible for you.”  — Matthew 17:19-20

 

I am in a tough season right now.  I almost hate admitting that and posting this for others to see.  This is more like a journal entry than a WMD.  I am hyperaware that others have it much, much rougher than me.   We are not promised a smooth ride, and I’m not even asking for that.  I just want to learn to rise above it all.  I want to get up there with God where even Mount Everest looks like an anthill.

 

I have been playing Elevation’s “Do it again” pretty much on repeat since Sunday.  That song just lit up my spirit:

 

I’ve seen you move

You move the mountains

And I believe, I’ll see you do it again

 

You made a way

Where there was no way

And I believe, I’ll see you do it again

 

You see, I know He will move them.  I know better times are coming.  I know with absolute certainty this season will end.  My prayer is not that it will even come to an end.  My prayer is that while in the middle of it, I will have joy unspeakable.  I want my attitude to stay solid.  I want to not just want to sleep all the time.  I want to feel victorious and trust God like never before.

 

I feel like tough moments in our lives are tests.  Tests that most of us just want over and done with.  The real mountain to me right now is finding joy in the test.  I know they say the teacher is silent during the test, but it isn’t like we don’t know He is there watching and supervising us.  Nothing is going to happen that He does not allow.

 

Lord, make me a faithful servant.  I never want to focus so much on my circumstances, which I do all the time. I just want to focus on you.  Fill me up with your Holy Spirit once more. Revive me that I might thrive, not just survive.  Thank you for being the mountain mover.  Thank you that when you are ready, the mountain will move.  However, right now, while I’m on it, draw me as close to you as I’ve ever been before.  I love you, Lord.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment