Doing what I say I believe

12/31/2004 6:11 AM
Title: LIVING WITH/LIKE CHRIST (JUDGEMENT BY WORKS)
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S: “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the
Lamb has come and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and
clean was given her to wear.’ (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of
the saints.)” Revelation 19:7, 8

O: It’s interesting to note here two things: 1) The bride made HERSELF
ready. No one else got her ready. No one else helped her. She did it
herself. 2) Fine linen was GIVEN to her. The initiation was someone else’s
but she had to take it from there and get herself ready.

Notice too, these verses also in today’s reading:

“…The dead were judged according to what they had done….” Revelation
20:12

“…each person was judged according to what he had done.” Revelation 20:13

“…To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring
of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this.” Revelation
21:6, 7

“Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong…let him who is holy continue
to be holy.” Revelation 22:11

“Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to
everyone according to what he has done.” Revelation 22:12

Revelation starts out with the idea of overcoming in Revelation 3 and it
ends with this same idea.

This can begin to sound very works oriented if you aren’t careful, but it is
about following through with what we say we are going to do. It’s about
following through with it and saying – this is how we’ll grow and this is
how we’ll work and this is how our faith will function. It’s about actions
speaking louder than words. For instance:

Matthew 25:41, 45 (NIV)
41″Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are
cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels..45″He
will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the
least of these, you did not do for me.'”

Jesus in this passage says to those who are trying to claim to be on his
side, your actions don’t show that you are on my side. Your actions show
that you don’t really follow me. Your actions show what you really believe.

A: I need to be careful talking about this passage. We live in a very cheap
grace world where everyone wants to have everything easy. I know to many
people who say, “If God wants that out of my life, he’ll have to remove it.”
And to people like that, and often to many others, this can sound very much
like a works-oriented religion, when in fact it is not.

As I preach, I need to teach people that this is truth. I need to teach
people how to be overcomers. I need to teach them that their actions ARE
important in the overall scheme of things.

But I also need to figure out a balance between the idea of saved by grace
and judged by works. Salvation vs. sanctification. I need to know how to
get that point across to people who don’t understand and aren’t in the mood
to listen to that concept.

I don’t understand how people who read the Bible miss this. I don’t
understand how people miss it in Galatians, or the other writings of Paul,
because they use him continually trying to show that cheap grace abounds.
Love God and do as you please is the mantra I hear all over and I hear it
infecting the Adventist church.

As I’ve focused on the Bible this year in my devotions, I’ve seen this
concept over and over again and again. But I’ve also seen the concept of
grace come out loud and clear. I think I’ve seen things come very clearly
into focus and very clearly the issue of grace and works has found a balance
for me. I knew there was a balance, because I saw it when I swung by each
time.

P: Lord, I need to live by the standard I see in the Bible. I am not
perfect and I will never deserve salvation. I know that. The gift of “Fine
Linen” is from you! You offer it to us – to ALL – as a means of living by
what we say we believe. I accept that, Lord. I ask forgiveness for the
many, many times I soil those fine linens with my sin. I confess that I
need a Savior. I confess that I need to walk ever-more clearly with you. I
confess that I am a sinner. Please forgive me. Please cleanse me. Please
fill me. Please change me.

I submit my day-to-day to you, Lord. I submit my life to you. I submit my
actions to you. I submit my family, my children, my wife and myself to you.
I submit me.

I love you, Lord. Thanks for leading me into a greater understanding in the
Bible this year. Thanks for allowing me to apply it to my life. Thanks for
allowing me to listen to you. I love you.

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Never Repentant?

12/28/2004 5:50 AM
Title: NEVER REPENTING?
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S: “The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not
repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and
idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood – idols that cannot see or
hear of walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their
sexual immorality or their thefts.” Revelation 9:20-21

O: Mankind is certainly stubborn. They see all the tragedies of the world
and they don’t see God’s working and moving trying to get them to repent.
They see all the struggles against them and they turn only more-so to their
idols.

I am reminded of the short snip I heard from Eminem’s new song yesterday –
it said something about follow me to the darkness.. It was a pretty evil
sounding song and a pretty evil sounding lyrics. Almost like Satan himself
talking. Scary.

We don’t seem to set up idols on our mantels very much anymore. What I mean
by that is that we don’t seem to carve figurines much anymore and worship
them. But we do worship idols just as much as ever before, in my opinion..

Demons: We worship them in the form of playing with them, listening to them
on the radio, etc.
Gold: Watches, jewelry, and any other thing made out of Gold – even money
Silver: same as above
Bronze: Anything shiny or glitzy we tend to worship – Hollywood, cars,
stuff, etc.
Stone: Homes
Wood: Homes

Idols that cannot see or hear or talk. It’s interesting to note how God
refers to them – implying why would you go after something so “stupid” when
you could see, hear or talk with God Himself.

The worst part of this though is the part about not giving up their Murders,
Magic Arts, Sexual Immorality and Theft. Why do we want to hang onto things
that are this evil? What is it about human kind that makes it exciting to
hang onto the things that will only hurt us more?

A: I don’t think I have any room to complain about other people. Instead,
what am I hanging onto that should be let go of. Am I hanging onto food,
clothing, homes, cars, or stuff? Am I hanging onto the applause of men? Am
I hanging onto things that God has asked me to let go of?

I want to be able to say no to those questions. I want to get to the place
in my journey where I am no longer fighting God on things. Gail used to say
to me, and I agree here with her, that I want to get to the place where God
says to do something, my FIRST answer is “Yes, Lord.”

P: Lord, I turn myself over to you. I want to be free from the sin in my
life. I want my relationship to be built around you and not around what I’m
trying to hang onto. Please change my heart. Please take my life. Please
fill me with the Holy Spirit. Please change my heart and change my mind.
Please help me to walk with you.

I ask you into my heart. I ask you to lead me to day. I submit myself to
you. I surrender me to you. I don’t want to hold anything back, I’m your
servant, and I want you to be in charge. Please take charge, Lord – protect
me, bless me, fill me, and make me into a man like you.

I love you, I want to follow you. Please open my heart to be like you. I
love you.

God’s Grace – the safety Net

12/26/2004 6:28 AM
Title: MY DELIGHT IS IN GOD’S LAW
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S: “If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my
affliction.” Psalm 119:92

O: Interesting to note that David is writing and he seems to describe here a
time when he loves God’s law, but he fell anyway. He acknowledges that if
already hadn’t spent time with God’s law, if he hadn’t spent time learning
to love God’s law, it would have been his total destruction. Obviously he
had learned to love it BEFORE his fall. And he seems to imply that he really
did love God’s law during his fall.

But you put that together with 2 John 6: “And this is love: that we walk in
obedience to his commands.”

Now that seems to go against what David has said in Psalm 119. And the only
way I can think to put the two together is to understand 2 John 6 as a trend
of the life. In other words, it’s not the occasional deed or misdeed that we
find salvation waiting for us, rather it is the trend of the life. It’s the
trend of our desires, wants, and direction of our life.

A: For me, that verse describes my falls. I love the Lord. I love his law.
I meditate on his word, and yet I still fall. This is not an excuse at all.
Rather, it’s a time to take a look at the direction of my life and where
it’s really going. I know that I fall. I know that I’m a sinner. I know
that I love the Lord. I don’t lose my salvation when I sin, but I could
begin a path towards losing it if I’m not careful in what I do.

Some sins are more serious in nature than others. Ellen White in Steps to
Christ says that there is no degree of sin in the world, but there are
degrees of guilt (pg. 30). What she’s saying is that sin is sin. All sin
is bad and all sin can lead us down the path of destruction – whether it be
stealing pencils from your boss or stealing your bosses wife. All sin is
sin. But she goes on to say that there are degrees of guilt. Some move us
more than others towards repentance or destruction simply by how we deal
with the guilt issue in our own lives.

I have a friend that when he committed adultery and tried to go back with
his wife (this was a fairly long affair) he couldn’t do it. Each time he
looked at his wife, he felt so much guilt that he couldn’t live with
himself. So he finally went back to the affair and got a divorce. He
didn’t want a divorce, but his guilt led him there.

Other sins are of a much more trivial matter and they don’t even make us
stop and think – which at times can be really sad.

But the truth is that we all live with sin. We all live in an era of sin
and guilt. The question for me today is: Do I love the law of God? Do I
meditate on it day and night? Do I long for the words of God’s law? Do I
see its beauty and its life in my life? That’s what David is describing in
Psalm 119 and that’s what has always drawn me to this passage.

P: My Father, I pray you will lead me. I pray you will guide me. I have
sinned. I am a sinner. But I do love you word and I do love you and your
law. I pray you will help me to grow more and more like you each day. I
pray that I will fall deeper in love with your law and your ways. I pray
that I will meditate on your words, Lord. I pray that I will grow in you
word. I pray your word will change who I am.

I don’t think David used his love for the law as an excuse for sin, “It’s
okay, I still love God.” Rather, I think he used God’s law as a safety net
to catch him when he did fall. He didn’t plan to fall, he didn’t plan to
stop following God for a season. He didn’t plan to lean so heavily on God’s
grace. Rather, it was a safety net that caught him when he stumbled.

Thank you Lord, for the safety net of your grace. Thank you for the way
you’ve continued to lead us and continued to guide me. I turn myself over
to you, Lord. I pray for the Holy Spirit to make me into a man like you. I
love you.

Showing Christ

12/24/2004 4:24 AM
Title: SO YOU MAY BELIEVE
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S: “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples,
which are not recorded in this book. But these were written that you may
believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you
may have life in his name.” John 20: 30-31

O: It would be fascinating to hear some of the other stories. Matthew and
Mark are so similar that many scholars believe they were written from the
same source. Luke comes in with some differences, but follows many – most –
of the same stories. John comes in with some differences, but still the
vast majority are leading us the same direction. Wouldn’t it be cool to
know many more of the things that Jesus did while on the earth.

John says that he’s writing with a purpose and this purpose is clearly not
to tell about the historical Jesus. The book of John wasn’t there being
told by an old man remembering his stories for mere entertainment. Rather,
John tells the story of Jesus with one purpose – that his readers (you and
I) – might clearly understand and believe in Jesus as the Christ – the
Messiah. He wants us to not only believe, but also accept and be changed by
that belief. And John wants us to have life – eternal life.

A: For me, from a logical sense, parts of John are confusing. Jesus speaks
so often in figurative language that if I wanted to look at this from a
logical part of the story, you can see at times why the Pharisees may have
rejected Jesus. But then I know it’s not the whole story and at other times
he’s very clear. I believe John leads us to the Messiah, the Christ. I
believe he’s got one of the best books out there that truly proclaim the
truth of the Christ.

I believe Jesus is the Christ. I believe He was the promised Messiah. In
the end, I see it clearly and wonder why the Pharisees didn’t see it.

I suppose that application for me is, am I as clear as to why I’m preaching
each and every week? Do I have as my stated purpose for preaching: I could
have said many more things, but my goal is that you believe that Jesus is
the Christ, the Son of God? That should be my ultimate goal – my stated
goal – what I strive for each and every week.

P: Lord, I ask you into my heart. I pray you will make it clear each week
that I show Jesus. I pray that my goal will never be to get people to join
my church, to give money, to get involved at church, but my goal each week
that I preach will be to show Jesus clearly.

I ask you into my heart. I want to be like Jesus, Lord. I pray for a
changed heart. I submit myself to you and I want to follow you in all that
I do. Please come in and make me a man like you. I love you, but I want to
follow you ever more closely. Please come into my life.

Free in Christ

12/20/2004 5:39 AM
Title: THIRSTING FOR THE SPIRIT

S: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever
believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow
from within him.” John 7: 37-38

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36

O: So many people in the world are thirsty for things. As I watch
the Christmas season, as I watch what happens to people and the internet, TV
and other hobbies, and as I watch what happens to friends. I see that that
people are dying of thirst. And the source of quenching their thirst is
right in front of them.

Why can’t people see it? Why won’t people drink the water that is in front
of them? Instead, they chase materialism, they chase lust, they chase their
appetite, they chase their self-indulgence, and they chase after things that
won’t satisfy. Why?

Why after so many years of abuse, self-abuse, anger, ridicule, rape, and
depression was Kim unwilling to give in and drink from the water of life?
Why do people going through the seeming lowest part of their lives not seek
the living water? Why are people afraid of God’s ways? Why are they so
afraid that they simply cannot find what they are looking for? Why don’t
they see it? Why don’t they see it more clearly? Why do they run from the
water they want so bad?

A: What am I doing about it, Lord? Am I actually providing that
living water in the sermons I preach, the church I’m leading and the leaders
I’m developing? Am I showing, giving away, and doing something significant
for your power and your will to show it to others? Lord, could it be that
if we were willing to give away the power of God, the living water from
Christ through the Spirit, that our churches would really take off? What’s
holding us back, Lord?

Am I holding us back. Someone once said that if a church isn’t growing,
look no further than the Senior Pastor. Lord, if I’m holding the church
back, forgive me. We are experiencing a 20% growth rate, but at the same
time, I think so many more people could be growing too.

P: Lord, I pray for the Holy Spirit. I pray you will guide me and
keep me growing in your direction. I pray that I will listen to you. I
pray that I will always listen and always follow you. Please guide me
today.

I want to give that water of life to the people around me – in my
neighborhood, in my church, and in my community and in my world. Please
guide me how to do that. Because I want to see people who come to the idea
that they can be free in Christ indeed!

Why my journal is online

After preaching the last two weeks about journaling, some may find that
they need examples of what to do. I don’t put my journals online because I
think there is any great wisdom here, as much as I want you to see my
thinking in my devotions. So, about twice a week, I put up my journal so
you can see and sometimes I think there are some really great thoughts here.
Read, enjoy.

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