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

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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.

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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.

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Perfect Peace

 

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. – Isaiah 26:3

 

Back in August, a couple of guys and myself decided to read through the Bible together in a year.  I’ve actually never done it in a year.  It always seems to take me a few months more than a year.  My progress sometimes gets slowed down when I’m reading other books or writing sermons.  Nevertheless, when I don’t know what to do or where to go, I just pick up reading from the last spot that I read in the Bible.  It is amazing how many times right where I am reading speaks right into my life.

 

This morning, I only made it three verses into Isaiah 26.  I find myself rushing so fast through life right now. I’m wishing days away so Spring Break can finally arrive.  I don’t know how I get to this point, probably 1 mile per hour at a time.  I don’t know even what usually snaps me out of it.  Today, it is the Word of God snapping me out of it.

 

If I am rushing through life, I am not walking with God.  He gets to set the pace of my life, not me.  Walking with Him for a day is 10,000 times better than speeding through a day without Him and just “getting it over with.”  It is so cool to me how God continually uses such elementary things to draw me back to Him.  I really am a child of God.  I need such wisdom and correction from my Heavenly Father in the smallest of things.  I’m pretty sure I will never outgrow that.  I’m really sure that He is the best thing this life offers.

 

Perfect peace.  How awesome does that sound?  No matter what my circumstances are, no matter what is going on around me, even though all hell is breaking out in my life . . . perfect peace.  How?  I am kept in perfect peace because my mind is on Him.  My mind is stayed on Him.  I am kept in perfect peace because I trust Him.  He can be trusted.

 

I love you so much, God.  There is and never will be another like you.  You are holy and infinitely worthy of glory, honor, and praise.  You redeemed me and kept sin and death from devouring me.  Help my mind stay on you today and forever.

 

Amen

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Seeking Humility

 

He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death– even death on a cross.  – Philippians 2:8

 

God has been working on my heart for 27 years now.  I have had such complete overhauls in the areas of lying, laziness, lust, self-discipline, foul language, and much, much more.  Each area was brought to the forefront of my mind for months, and in some cases for years.  Even then, it’s not like I just automatically never dealt with those sins again. It’s more like I had to maintain them much like pulling weeds in the flowerbed before they become a massive problem to deal with.

 

My son’s memory verse for the week included this section of Philippians 2:8. I have not been able to stop quoting it. I’ve meditated on it so much. After 27 years, God has begun to overhaul a major sin that I’ve carried for far too long . . . Pride.  I should have recognized this much, much sooner. The only stipulation I gave God before I gave my life to Him was, “Please don’t make me get in front of people and talk.”  I was terrified to speak in front of people.  I thought it was just fear . . . it was really pride.  I just didn’t want to look bad.

 

As I’ve pondered and pondered this, pride may be the grossest and most powerful of sins.  Pride led holy angels to rebel against their Creator.  Pride was the only thing that could penetrate the hearts of Adam & Eve. The serpent appealed to their pride, “you will be like God.”  Even in a state of sinless perfection, God’s creation rebelled against Him.

 

I am now seeing that if God will work this miracle in my heart, mind, and life, this is the absolute key to freedom.  I have often wondered how in the world Jesus kept from calling down fire and lightning from heaven on the religious Pharisees, especially after they had the gall to chastise Him after doing the greatest miracles mankind had ever seen.  Their words harmed Him not one bit.  He never once lost focus because He was perfectly humble.  I on the other hand, cannot take the least bit of criticism. I dwell on stuff that doesn’t matter like nobody’s business.  Why? Because I am the opposite of humble. I am loaded with pride.

 

Praise God I serve a God in the miracle working business.  He has changed so many things about me I know that at one point in time I would have told you was impossible.  Killing the massive amount of pride in me seems a monumental task, but not for the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

 

Lord, I ask for you to make me humble.  I place myself in your hands once more as a big clump of soft, moldable clay.  I ask you to breath your life and Holy Spirit into me.  Why should I ever care what men think if I am truly serving you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength?  You humbled yourself.  You left heaven.  You left perfection to come down here and show me how it is done.  Help me to crave a life of humility.  Help me be like you.  I don’t want to care what I look like in the eyes of men.  I just want to be conformed to your image.  There is no one like you. 

 

Amen

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The Place of Deliverance

 

Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. – Psalm 32:1

 

So (Christian) ran until he came to a place somewhat elevated.  Upon that place stood a cross, and below at the bottom there was a Tomb. I saw in my dream that just as Christian came up to the Cross, his burden came loose from his shoulders and fell off his back.  It began to tumble and continued to do so until it came to the mouth of the Tomb. It then fell into the Tomb, and I saw it no more. – Pilgrim’s Progress.

 

Do you remember when you were completely delivered?  Can you recall when you absolutely knew without a shadow of a doubt that you were so clean and so brand new?  That sense of pure love and that feeling of all that weight of sin just falling off . . . there is nothing else this world offers that even comes close.

 

I like that Christian carried the burden of sin for a while.  He wanted so badly to be rid of it.  Even though he asked often, it never happened until he came to the place of deliverance.  It happened in God’s time.  I know people hate to hear that, I sure did at one time.  I was like everyone else wanting it all and wanting it now.  No matter how much God has done for other people, there always seems to be that nagging question of “Will He come through for me?”  I remember singing this song in church:

 

It is no secret what God can do 

What He’s done for others, He’ll do for you. 

With arms wide open, He’ll pardon you 

It is no secret, what God can do.

 

I’ve had several places of deliverance.  The one I will always remember happened at a church in Gainesville, Georgia.  I had no idea what God had in store for me that day. All I knew is that the world was trying so hard to keep me in it’s vice grip.  I wasn’t really happy with any aspect of my life.  I was still so selfish.  Yet, I walk in that place of deliverance and fight back tears the moment I walk in the doors.  When I got to my seat and those singers started singing, it really was all over but the crying.  I’m not sure I had any tears left that day.  I do know that I left so free and so changed.

 

I was completely forgiven. I’m not sure anything makes one more sorry for sin than knowing you are completely forgiven.  After you get that sense of pure love and pure cleanness, you wonder why in the world you lived any other way than His way.  You wonder why in the world you’d ever offend a God so good, so pure, and so kind.

 

Lord, you are so good.

 

Adam

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I Am Not My Own

 

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought with a price.  Therefore glorify God with your body. – 1 Corinthians 6:20

 

Today’s Christians are driven too much by their feelings.  Many Christians feel strongly about a subject, tradition, political affiliation, or cause and it appears to the rest of the world that they care more about those things rather than advancing the kingdom of God.  Social media is full of people’s feeling-driven opinions.  I often wonder:  Out of 1,000 posts, or out of 1,000 general comments made to other people, how many simply asked the Lord if what is about to be said will bring glory and honor to Him?

 

It is a constant struggle for me to not be driven by my feelings.  In a world where everyone else seems to just say whatever is on his or her mind, it is ridiculously hard for me to not join in.  Reading the Bible regularly teaches believers not to trust feelings.  It didn’t matter how Daniel felt about being placed in the den of lions, he had to be obedient to God.  It didn’t matter how Stephen felt about being pelted with rocks, he had to speak the truth. It didn’t even matter how Jesus felt about drinking the cup full of your sin and my sin, even He resolved to do the will of the Father.  It did not matter what He “felt” like.

 

Why in the world do I write this today?  I think because I am pretty much physically and emotionally exhausted.  I don’t know why, but teaching just gets incredibly hard at this time of the year.  It is more important than ever that I don’t let what I feel like affect my attitude towards my students and my work.  It is just as important that I teach with the same passion and fervency that I had at the beginning of the school year.  How can the general public possibly believe that God makes a difference in the life of a believer if believers are just as miserable, and sometimes even more miserable, than those who don’t even claim to know God?

 

Christians, do not be governed by your feelings today.  You might want to quit, but don’t quit.  You might want to dial it in, but you just don’t get to.  We are representatives of our God and King.  In this life we learn to do the things we ought, regardless of the temptation to do otherwise.  If we remain faithful, we will receive an inheritance as a reward.

 

Therefore, glorify God with your body.

 

Lord, help me to live by principle, not by feelings.  Help me to live by every word that proceeds from your mouth, and not just by bread alone.  You bought me and paid for me in full at Calvary.  I imagine you weren’t very excited to pay that price, but you paid it.  Help me in turn to just do whatever it is that I’m doing like I’m doing it for you, Lord. If I quit every time I felt like quitting, I’d be nowhere.  Thank you for thinking that I’m worth dying for.  Help me to honor you with my life, for you are worth living for.

 

Amen.

 

Adam

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