Thursday, March 29, 2007

Combining Business with Pleasure

It is not often you get to combine business with pleasure. But we got to do just that recently as I attended RFID World at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center on Lake Grapevine.

Check out the Gaylord for yourself. It was very nice. We had a few problems with our room. So, we ultimately ended up in a suite. Even it had a few minor issues. But, we decided to live with it. ;>)

I'll post something a little more "spiritual" later this week or over the week-end.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Ready to preach, pray or die at any given moment

I have used that phrase for so many years now that I don’t even remember where I picked it up first. I think I first heard it from Reuben Welch, author of the best selling book, “We Really Do Need Each Other”.

My best friend, Dave Woods’ called me on it recently when we were visiting his church in Ohio. And my friend, Billy Long called me on it last week in Bible study. So what does it mean to me?

Ready to Preach?

Paul said in Romans 1:15, “So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also.” KJV

The NASB says, “So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.”

For these reasons mentioned in the preceding verses, he was ready, if he had an opportunity, to preach the gospel at Rome. Though it was a public place, though it was a dangerous place, where Christianity met with a great deal of opposition, (remember, the Roman Emperor was fond of dipping Christians in tar and impaling them on pikes and then lighting them on fire to light his parties) yet Paul was ready to run the risk at Rome, if the opportunity came to him:

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, one of the best known preachers of the late 1800’s wonders if Paul didn’t use the words “I am ready” as his motto. Almost the first words out of his mouth when he was saved were, “Lord, what do you want me to do?” (Acts 9:6)

Ready to Pray?

Matthew 26:41 says, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed [is] willing, but the flesh [is] weak.”

Mark 13:33 says, “Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.”

Mark 14:38 says, “Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly [is] ready, but the flesh [is] weak.”

Luke 21:36 says, “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.”

James 5:16 says, “Confess [your] faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

But, I caution you. Praying is sometimes the easy part. The hard part is often the “taking our hands off and letting God deal with it in His timing” part. Or the “patiently waiting upon the Lord” part.

Ready to Die?
For to me to live [is] Christ, and to die [is] gain. But if I live in the flesh, this [is] the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh [is] more needful for you. And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith; That your rejoicing may be more abundant in Jesus Christ for me by my coming to you again.
Philippians 1:21-26 KJV

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your joy in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me.
Philippians 1:21-26 NIV

We all have a somewhat natural fear of death and dieing. I suppose it is partly because of the reluctance of leaving our loved ones. God has given to us beautiful and loving relationships, and the thought of being separated from these relationships is difficult. We are never ready it seems to let them go. We hear the phrase “hang on for dear life”. Often we are hanging on too dearly to this life.

Part of the fear comes from the unknown. There is always a certain fear of the unknown. For the unsaved, there are many unknown factors concerning, death that if they were known, they would have an even greater fear of death. For the believer, if we only knew all of the facts, we would have no fear at all. Rather, we would be like Paul, willing to be absent from this body that we might be present with the Lord.

In Philippians 1:23 Paul speaks of his mixed emotions, he had a desire to depart from this body and be with Christ, which he said was far better, yet he felt a necessity to live a little longer because of the loving relationships and he felt that they still needed his spiritual guidance.
In his letter to the Corinthians he mentioned how that we who are in these bodies often groan, earnestly desiring to be freed, not that we would be unbodied, but we longed for our new bodies in heaven.

So what does this mean to me?

I address this post primarily to men today. And the message to us as men is this. You and I are called to be the Spiritual leaders of our homes. I can think of no better way to live before our wives and children’s eyes than like Paul writes about in the passages that we have looked at in this blog post.

Paul was ready to preach – And maybe that is just a poor choice of words. What he is saying to us that we are to be ready to proclaim the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. To give a reason for the hope that lies within us. “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” 1 Peter 3:15 NIV

Paul was ready to pray – There is nothing more important that we can can do than to pray. Pray for ourselves, lest we fall into temptation. Pray for our family and loved ones. Pray for our leaders in the Church and in the government.

Paul was ready to die – He says late in his life that he has run the race. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness,” 2 Tim. 4:6-7 NIV

Are you ready for whatever God will put in your path today or this week?

Are you ready to meet Him if He were to call you home right now?

Would you like to be?

You can be! By the authority of God’s Word and in the power of the Holy Spirit you can be ready to “preach, pray, or die” at any given moment.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Living in a Tent, Worshipping at an Altar

In Genesis 12, Abram goes down to Egypt for legitimate reasons. After all, there was a famine in the land. But that sort of begs the question as to whether or not God could have or would have provided for Abram back in the land that God had promised him? But, we can deal with that in another post.

So what does Abram do after his little jaunt down into Egypt? In Genesis 13, he comes back to the fertile land of the promise and he builds an altar. Abram finds himself in a situation that is very familiar to many of us. He finds himself in a location, and a spiritual condition, where he does not feel God's presence as near as he once did. So Abram does what makes sense. He goes back to the place where he last felt close tot he presence of God. And further he returns to the lifestyle that he was living prior to his sojourn in Egypt.

Abram did what he should to rekindle the fire of God's presence within him. He did not beat himself up for his recent sin. Instead he got busy by getting back on the journey and adventure that God had called him to. He went back to living in a tent as a pilgrim, back to worshipping at the altar that he had built before, and back to calling upon the name of the Lord.

Here is a model for you and I to follow when we find that we too have wandered from God's presence and found ourselves mired in sin. First, get out of the place of sin. Second, return to the place and the activities where we last felt God's presence.

This I know for sure. If we are feeling afar off from God, rest assured it is not God who has wandered from us. It is always us who have wandered from God.

Weak and wounded sinner
Lost and left to die
O, raise your head, for love is passing by
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus and live!

Now your burden's lifted
And carried far away
And precious blood has washed away the stain, so
Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus and live!

And like a newborn baby
Don't be afraid to crawl
And remember when you walk
Sometimes we
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus and live!

Sometimes the way is lonely
And steep and filled with pain
So if your sky is dark and pours the rain, then
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus and live!

O, and when the love spills over
And music fills the night
And when you can't contain your joy inside, then
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus and live!

And with your final heartbeat
Kiss the world goodbye
Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory's side, and
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus and live!
Chris Rice - Untitled Hymn (Come To Jesus)

Sunday, March 11, 2007

God's Covenant with Abraham

This was the topic in our Sunday School Class (er, I mean, Bible Study) this morning. We studied Genesis chapter 12. The Abrahamic Covenant may offer more questions than answers. I know it certainly does for me. Here are some of the questions that I have:

  • Does it promise Israel permanent existence as a nation?
  • Does it promise Israel permanent ownership of the promised land?
  • Is the covenant conditional or unconditional in nature?
  • If it is conditional, then the fulfillment of its promises is dependent upon the obedience of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their physical descendants, the people of Israel.
  • If the Abrahamic Covenant is unconditional, then is the fulfillment of its promises dependent upon the faithfulness of God to His word, or upon man's obedience?
Do you need a refresher on the basics of the covenant between God and Abram (Abraham)? If so, turn in your Bible to Genesis 12 and again in chapter 15.

There are three main features to the Abrahamic Covenant.
  1. God promises Abram land (lots of it!). The promise of land is found in Genesis 12:1. God called Abraham from Ur of the Chaldees to a land that He would give him. This promise is reiterated in Genesis 13:14–18 where it is confirmed by a shoe covenant; its dimensions are given in Genesis 15:18–21 along with the dead animals and the stroll through the carcasses.

  2. God promises descendants (lots of them!). God promised Abram that He (God) would make a great nation out of him. Abram, who was 75 years old and childless at the time (Sarai is barren at this point), was promised many descendants. This promise is further explained in Genesis 17:6 where God promised that nations and kings would descend from the him. This promise leads to the Davidic Covenant of 2 Samuel 7:12–16 and would lead to King David's throne and ultimately with King Jesus.

  3. God promises blessings (again, lots of them) and redemption (final, full and free!). God promised to bless Abram and all the families of the earth through him. This promise is further defined in the New Covenant found in Jeremiah 31:31–34 as well as Hebrews 8:6–13, and has to do with “Israel’s spiritual blessing and redemption.” Jeremiah 31:34 anticipates the forgiveness of sin and points us ultimately toward the cross and Easter.
I cannot escape the "unconditional" nature of this covenant. In fact, Abram is sound asleep during the covenant ceremony. God, and God alone, in the form of fire and smoke walked among the animal carcasses. This is a divine indicator that there was really nothing Abram could have done any way. At least not at this part of the process.

Now, does that mean that Abram did not have a real and active part in living out the covenant? Absolutely, Abram had a part. His part was to walk with God and follow where He led. His part was to keep his eyes on God as God led him out of Ur of the Chaldees and into a land that Abram knew absolutely nothing about.

His part is just like our part. We are to walk with God on the same sort of "faith walk" that Abram went on. We are to walk with God daily. And daily we are to commit to upholding our part of the covenant. But, we like Abram, do not have the power and ability to do even our part on our own. Fortunately we have the Holy Spirit to empower us to live a holy life, a covenant life.

There is much more to be said about the twelfth chapter of Genesis. I particularly like the last few verses where we see pharaohs and plagues and deliverance out of Egypt. What an incredible foreshadowing of events that would take place some 430 years later. But, I will save that for another blog post.

What are your thoughts about this chapter and story of Abram's life?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

What is your favorite Holiness passage?

Mine is probably I Peter 1:13-16

Wherefore girding up the loins of your mind, be sober and set your hope perfectly on the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as children of obedience, not fashioning yourselves according to your former lusts in [the time of] your ignorance: but like as he who called you is holy, be ye yourselves also holy in all manner of living; because it is written, Ye shall be holy; for I am holy.

For me, being holy is the opposite of being “common” or “worldly.” God is holy in that He is utterly and completely different and distinct from His creation. We must also be different, distinct, and separate from the worldly attitudes and actions that are so prevalent in today's society and that characterize the unbelievers.

I also like the KJV for a passage in chapter 2 and verse 9, in that it conveys an idea of being separate:

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9, KJV).

I have some more favorite passages on this subject (as you might imagine.) But this will do for now.

So, what is yours? And why is it your favorite?

Monday, March 05, 2007

Life Has Settled Down

It is hard to believe that my last post was January 9th. But, that was the last one. Since then there have been many things that have happened in my life. And God deserves all the praise and glory for what He has done. And life is settling down.

I am very grateful for those of you have have stopped by my blog from time to time to see if I was still "on the air." Some of you even wrote me personal emails and I am thankful for those as well.

I have nothing profound to say on this my first post in quite some time. I will just say that I am still captured by the words of one of the songs that we sung yesterday in church.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

He has been my strength!

He has been my hope!

Great is Thy Faithfulness!