November 20, 2017

Established By God

I find the upcoming Alabama election with controversial candidate Judge Ray Moore fascinating. The uproar reminds me of same atmosphere that was present when Jesus was before Pilate. The religious and political leaders conspired to have the Lord crucified and Barabbas released…and the people in the crowd, the voters of that day, believed that they controlled the narrative. We would do well to remember that whether it is Obama, Trump or Moore, it is God who purposed these people for their position. Paul said, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. (Ro 13:1 NIV).


November 17, 2017

Reviewing

Scripture often uses repetition to emphasize the importance of an issue, but generally speaking we don’t see New Testament writers reviewing their own material. I’m seeing a pattern with today’s preachers, similar to a teacher reminding his students of a previous instruction, where they review past lessons. The pastor will refer to information given in the adult Sunday school class, the Wednesday night Bible study, or last week’s sermon. Such refreshers work well if preacher is talking to the same audience; however, it is of little benefit to those who missed the previous lesson. Often these reviews overshadow the actual lesson, which leaves one with the feeling that the speaker wasn’t prepared and fell back on old material. Paul sets a standard and serves as an example to those who preach the Word, “We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Cor 2:6-8 NIV).

November 16, 2017

Riding for the Brand

I recently watched an old western on TV where Sam Elliot’s character talked about riding for the brand. In essence the brand was a ranch’s trademark and riding for the brand meant you signed on to the mission — loyalty, dedication, duty, etc. It is becoming more and more obvious that people in the media, politicians, civil servants and yes, even people of faith, are trying to become their own brand. Sometimes people of faith start writing and believing their own press and forget the brand they ride for is not their own, but that of Jesus Christ. Paul said, “You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men” (1 Cor 7:23 NIV).

November 15, 2017

Open Doors

During a recent visit to a struggling church there were only three of us in attendance. One man was at retirement age and the other man was well beyond retirement. Both gentlemen have had heath issues and are unable to keep up with the facility maintenance. The pastor said, “Once in a while we have visitors and can fill a [pew] row. We don’t have any youth programs, so I can see why people with children want to go other churches. We continue to be faithful here until God says shut the door…which may be sooner rather than later.” As an observer it appeared to me that the Lord had already shut the door. I couldn’t help but wonder if, rather than praying for the Lord to shut the door, they should be praying for the Lord to open a door. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me” (1 Cor 16:7-9 NIV).


November 14, 2017

False Referrals

More and more people try to tap into the Christian Ear for referral traffic. Their messages are often written in a foreign language, or with broken English lacking basic grammar. Not surprising, the comments have nothing to do with the subject even though they say, “This is just what I needed and will you write more on this subject.” As believers we too must filter out Satan’s referral traffic that would have us believe that all religions lead to God and, as the bumper sticker purports, all faiths can “coexist.” Jesus states clearly, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him” (John 14:6-7 NIV).

November 13, 2017

Veterans of Faith

In honor of Veterans the small congregation sang the hymn, “Onward, Christian Soldiers.” The pastor said, “There are also veterans of the faith who are Christian soldiers in His kingdom. As a military veteran (US Navy and Army National Guard), the comment gave me pause. A veteran is someone who has had long experience in a particular field; however, I’ve never applied that title to my Christian walk. The writer of Hebrews said, “Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (Heb 5:13-14 NIV).

November 10, 2017

Sufficient

The last few weeks I’ve felt overwhelmed with coordinating my life, as well as the lives of my husband and mother-in-law. We’ve had an overnight hospital stay, multiple doctor appointments and visits to an attorney to cross our T’s and dot the I’s. I finally told the Lord that I’ve reached my limit and I can do no more. You wanna know what he told me…My grace is sufficient you. The Lord’s words to Paul should strike at the heart of all believers, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9a NIV).