Washed Clean – Like Drawings on a Sidewalk

I spent some time with the grandkids today and as I was walking home I noticed some of their pictures on the driveway drawn with sidewalk chalk.  I guess that makes it driveway chalk.  Anyway, I love seeing those drawings that they make.  I love the temporary masterpieces they have crafted recently of homes, flowers, and butterflies.  I haven’t had many opportunities to see these great works of art lately because they have been washed away so quickly by all the rain we have been having this spring.  Every time I consider how quickly these pictures are washed away by the rain, I am reminded of how God can so easily wash away our sins when we turn to Him in submission and repentance.  The Bible says in Titus chapter 3

Titus 3:5 He (God) saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

My salvation does not rest on my work or any good deed that I may try to offer unto God.  I have been rescued by the love and mercy of God.  God demonstrated His love for me in that while I was still a sinner, Christ died for me.  If my salvation depended on my righteousness, then my unrighteous deeds could never and would never be erased.  Even if someone would view my bad deeds as relatively harmless, any deed outside of God’s will is sinful and any such deed causes a break in my fellowship with Him.  I cannot erase those unrighteous deeds no matter how small they may seem to you or me; and I cannot restore my fellowship with God.  I cannot do it…but Christ can!

Christ who gave His life for us can forgive us of our sins if we turn from our sins and turn to Him and ask Him to be our Savior.  We can be justified by His grace.  It can be “just as if” we never sinned.  The unrighteous deeds in our lives can be washed away like chalk drawings on a sidewalk in a summer rain.  God will pour out His mercy and His power into our life through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit through His Son Jesus Christ!  We not only have our sins washed away but we have our fellowship with God the Father restored and we receive eternal life!  And God equips us and empowers us to begin to live according to His will rather than ours.  Will we have trials?  Yes.  Will we have temptations?  Yes.  But we also have the Lord walking beside us, helping us to overcome those trials and temptations.  The Lord is with us!  Let me tell you, He will work in you and through you and together you will paint a picture that will last for eternity.  It will be a picture of victory, of perseverance and living by faith!  It will be one that will withstand the winds, the rains and the storms of this life.  It will be beautiful to behold!  I hope that you have a wonderful week.  Until next time, stay strong in the faith.

Posted in Christianity, faith, God, God's Mercy, inspirational, religion, salvation, Titus 3:5, Washing away our sins | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Some Thoughts on the Shooting in Charleston

I know that it has been a tough week for many people.  The people of Charleston who were affected by the church shooting are particularly on my mind.  We all need to keep them in our prayers as they deal with this horrible tragedy.  We also need to pray for those whose minds are blinded by the evil one, whose hearts are filled with hatred, and whose hands seek to sow terror, division and strife in this land.  Their deeds reflect the mindset of their own master who comes to steal, kill and destroy.  I pray that the Lord would bind the hands of these evil doers in the midst of their plans and that He would break down the stronghold of hatred and evil in their minds.  I pray that He would open their hearts to know His love.

I pray that as the Lord binds their hands, I pray that He would strengthen the bond among His people.  I pray that God’s people would rise up together in love, harmony and unity.  I pray that brothers and sisters of all types, nationalities, colors, ethnic backgrounds, and any other type of distinction that man can devise would walk together in a Godly way more closely than ever before.  We are the people of “ONE LORD, ONE FAITH, ONE BAPTISM. (Eph 4:5)”  We are Children of the Most High God.  We stand with you Charleston.  There is no place for racism or unrighteousness!  There is no place for terrorism and turmoil!  There is no place for hating or hassling someone just because they are different!  It is time for the Church to be the Church.  It is time for Christians to act like Christians.  Lord help us to be known as Your disciples because of the love that we have for one another.  Lord help us to overcome evil with good (Rom 12:21).  Lord please be with the people of Charleston.  Lord, comfort them.  Hold them.  Strengthen them and let them know the peace of your presence.  And Lord, help us to reach out to them and others in a meaningful way.  Amen.

Posted in Charleston Church Shooting 2015, Christianity, Ephesians 4:5, faith, ministry work, No place for racism, No place for terrorism, Overcome Evil with Good, religion, Romans 12:21 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

If You Mess Up

I was having a conversation with someone on the street a while back and this individual felt like they had really blown it as far as their relationship with God was concerned.  They felt like they reneged on their commitment, that they had let too many people down and that they were lost without any hope.  Whenever I am confronted with that situation or similar issues I always like to share with people Psalm 103:14 which speaks of God’s compassion, “For He Himself knows our frame, He is mindful that we are only dust.”  There is always hope!  God knows that we are not perfect.  God knows that we will mess up.  We all fall short of God’s glory.  Sometimes when we fall, we fall hard and sometimes when we mess up we mess up bad.  But the mercy and grace of our Lord is rich.  As Paul said in Romans 5:20 “Where sin abounds, grace does much more abound.”  As Paul points out in the next few chapters while that does not give us a license to sin, it does prove to us the depths to which God has gone to set us free from the penalty and power of sin in our lives.  God sent His Son so that we would no longer be slaves to sin but that we would be equipped and empowered to live our lives as servants of the Most High God.

And yet, because we are still not perfect this side of Glory, it still begs the question, what do you do if you mess up?  I suggest three things to keep in mind in such a situation.  First, if you mess up fess up.  The Lord is ready to forgive us!  King David after he had committed adultery and then murder to try and hide his sin ultimately confessed his iniquity to God.  In Psalm 51 David cries out for forgiveness, asking the Lord to renew his heart and restore the joy of his salvation.  David knows that the Lord will respond to a humble and repentant heart that turns from sin and turns to Him.  The Lord forgave David and He will forgive you too.  The Bible says in 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  Our God is a forgiving God!  If you mess up, fess up.

Second, after you fess up, make up.  It is always important to make amends to others.  Yes, I know that in Psalm 51 David said to God in verse 4 “Against You only have I sinned.”  In that verse David is not saying that no one else besides God was hurt or betrayed.  David is saying that he has despised God by not just violating God’s moral law but by doing harm to those made in the image of God.  Anytime we hurt or mistreat someone we are despising God and His creation.  Let me give a simple illustration.  My granddaughter always colors and draws pictures for me.  Many find their place on our fridge for a while, some make it to work and a while back one made it to the trash can in my study.  I spilt my coffee on it one Saturday morning while I was working so I put it in the little wastebasket near my desk.  My granddaughter found it a few days later, picked it out of the trash can and said, “What’s this?”  Oh the look she gave me.  She was hurt and a little upset.  That picture that she made, her special creation had just been tossed aside so carelessly.  We do that to God’s special creations all the time.  We drop a careless word here and there and hurt someone.  Sometimes the words we drop or the actions we take are not careless at all; sometimes they are pointed and sharp and have just the effect we mean for them to have.  People, all people, no matter where they stand on any issue or where they are at any place in their spiritual journey, no matter how wrong we may think they may be, no matter how different their views may be from ours – all people are special creations of God, created in His image.  For that reason, we should treat everyone with a certain level of respect.

Sometimes we forget to do that, we offend others and we offend God.  We mess up.  When that happens we need to fess up and make up.  In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said in Matthew 5:23 “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.”   In this verse we clearly we see that the Lord places a very high priority on reconciliation and right relationships with other people.  If we are at church and it is in the middle of the offering time, and we realize that we have offended our brother we are to get up and go make things right with our brother.

There is one more thing I would say we need to do.  To recap, when we mess up, fess up.  After we fess up, make up and finally, after we make up, NEVER GIVE UP!  I hate to tell you this but even people that you consider the most devout and most faithful Christians are going to blow it from time to time.  Paul talked about the struggle to always do right in Romans chapter 7.  In Philippians chapter 3 Paul talked about the fact that he knew he was not perfect, that he knew he had not arrived yet.  I love what Paul said in Philippians 3:13

Phil 3:13 “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

We all fall short.  We all mess up from time to time.  But just because we mess up does not mean we should give up.  Don’t ever give up!  God is not through with you.  He made too much of an investment in you to give up on you.  He will equip you and He will empower you.  You are not perfect, you still have some work to do, but it is God who is working in you.  Don’t ever give up!  I am so encouraged by the fact the Bible records for us Simon Peter’s heartbreaking denial of the Lord on the night that Christ was betrayed.  Simon Peter betrayed Jesus, not just once but three times!  I know that Simon Peter was crushed.  I know that he was heartbroken.  But despite his denial, despite his failure the Lord did not give up on Simon Peter.  With some encouragement Simon Peter pressed on.  Simon Peter did not give up.  He allowed God to continue to work in him and through him and the Lord used Simon Peter in a great way.  The Lord gave Simon Peter the privilege of preaching that sermon on the Day of Pentecost and 3,000 souls were added to the kingdom!  Don’t give up!  Press on!  You will be amazed at what God can do!

If you mess up, fess up, make up and never ever give up.  Until next time, stay strong in the faith.

Posted in 1 John 1:9, Christianity, Don't give up, faith, God, Matthew 5:23, ministry work, Philippians 3:13, Psalm 51, religion, Romans 5:20 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Prayer Request

Hope you are having a great week.  Last night I spent about an hour in prayer with a group of friends as we prepared to share the gospel this Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the streets of downtown Austin, Texas.  There should be plenty of opportunities as we will have a lot of visitors in town for the X-Games.  We will hand out water, gospel tracts, and even have some food available on a few occasions as we prayerfully seek opportunities to share the gospel with those we meet.  Please pray for those associated with this effort and pray for the interactions and conversations that will take place.  Pray that the love of God in the hearts those sharing will be evident in every encounter.  Pray that hearts and minds will be open to hearing the good news that God so loves this world that He gave His Only Begotten Son so that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  Pray that God will be glorified in all that is said and done.  For more information on how you can support this effort go to GospelOutreachCoalition.org

Romans 10:13  “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.” 14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? 15 How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!”

Posted in Christianity, faith, God, inspirational, prayer, Romans 10:13, witnessing | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God is ready to Talk

20150118_094125 Sometimes my granddaughters call me on the phone just to say hello or to see if they can come over. They live just 3 doors down so they come over pretty often which is okay by me. When they call I almost always get two calls – one right after the other. I get two calls because Avery who is five usually makes the first call; she has known our number for a while. Haley who is the youngest is three and now that she knows our phone number she wants to be sure that she gets a chance to call us up too. Thus, we receive not one call but two. I love those girls and they can call me anytime they want. I am glad they know my phone number.

I just got two calls from them early this morning and it reminded me about God’s phone number. I was always told that God’s phone number is Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” There is some interesting background to that story in Jeremiah; read it and you’ll be blessed. Jeremiah had some burdens on his heart and the Lord invited Jeremiah to call Him and have a talk. You can rest on the same promise. The Lord is ready to talk to you, He promises to hear your prayers and to respond. That’s His phone number, give Him a call. He is always ready to listen.

Posted in Christianity, faith, God, God Still Speaks, God's Phone Number, grandchildren, inspirational, Jeremiah 33:3, prayer, religion | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God Still Speaks

This week I have posted one of my sermons. If you would prefer to watch it on video, I have provided a link. The video picks up after paragraph #4. Here is the link: https://youtu.be/QVzLxehEXKQ

Good morning, it is an honor and a blessing to come before you in this House of Prayer. I am glad that you are here today and I hope you know how much the Lord loves you! Can you hear me okay? Good, it is important to be able to hear well. I talked to my doctor about that very thing not long ago. Now, I didn’t tell him about problems that I was having, I mentioned some concerns I have had about my wife. See, we have been married for a while and I told the doctor it seems to me like she is losing her hearing. So, the doctor gave me a test I to give her when I got home. He said talk to her from across the house and see if she hears you. If she doesn’t answer, move closer and try again. He said to keep moving closer and closer until she responds. So that’s what I did. I got home and she was in the kitchen washing some dishes. I went to the back of the house and I said, “Hey Honey, you got a minute? I want to ask you a question.” No response. I moved closer. Same question – again no response. I tried it several times, moving closer and closer – still no answer. My heart grew heavy. Finally, I was right up behind her and I said, “Hey honey, got a minute?” And she whips around and says, “For the tenth time, yes! What is it?” See, she heard me. She had been responding and speaking to me all along; the problem was not with her – the problem was with me! I was not hearing what she was saying.

I think that happens to us in our spiritual lives sometimes too. We think that the Lord doesn’t hear us. We think that He is not responding to us. We think that the Lord has shut off communication. Some people even assume that the Lord no longer speaks. The Bible lets us know that is a wrong assumption. Jesus said in John 10:27-28.

John 10:27 My sheep hear My Voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My Hand.

That’s good stuff. I love the Gospel of John. It shows us God’s clear desire to speak to us and to reveal Himself to a lost world through Jesus Christ His Son. It is through John’s gospel in chapter 3 that we learn that God so loves the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but will have everlasting life. God sent His Son to proclaim this message. During His earthly ministry when He was proclaiming that message, Jesus received various types of reactions just like He does today. Some believed, some weren’t sure and there were many others who refused to accept His claim to be the Son of God. Jesus addresses all of these people in John chapter 10. Jesus tells a parable about sheep and shepherds. It is a parable designed to show the dependence the sheep have for their shepherd. Following the parable, Jesus announces in verse 14, “I am the Good Shepherd, I know My own and My own know me.” In fact, Jesus goes on to say, “Not only do they know Me, they hear My voice and they follow Me.”

When I read this passage, I think about how awesome it is that Christ wants to be our Shepherd. David said in Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” David knew that the Lord wants to meet all of our needs. It’s true, the Lord desires to take care of us and guide us because He sees us as His sheep. As I look at these verses it occurs to me that if we, as His sheep want to be protected, blessed, and taken care of, we need to follow the Good Shepherd. That means the sheep must learn to hear and recognize His Voice. I have been asked many times if God still speaks. The answer to that question is, “Yes He does!” The Lord still speaks because He still desires to bless His Sheep; He wants us to follow Him. He is able to bless you as you hear Him and respond to His Voice. So I want to share a message today entitled, “God Still Speaks.”

The Lord Still Speaks
1. By His Spirit.

The first truth that we need to acknowledge is God speaks by the power of the Holy Spirit. In John chapter 16 Jesus spoke to the disciples about His impending departure and how they were to carry on His ministry without Him. This troubled them greatly, but Jesus told them they would not face that time alone. Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit. He said in John 16:13:

John 16:13 “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14 “He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you.

It is by the power of the Holy Spirit that God speaks to us. The Greek word for Holy Spirit is paraclete. (Not Parakeet…My brother, sister and I had a parakeet when we were kids growing up and all that bird could say was “don’t, stop, I’m telling”) I’m not saying parakeet I’m saying paraclete. Paraclete means “one who comes alongside to offer help”. The Holy Spirit offers help. What kind of help? Whatever kind you need! For one thing, we need help understanding that we need Christ. We like to think that because we aren’t as bad as some people that we aren’t that bad at all. The truth is that any sin, one sin, a little sin separates us from the Holy and righteous God. If we die in our sin we are separated from God for eternity! See it doesn’t matter if you aren’t as bad as someone else; you aren’t as good as God! The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin and calls us into a lifesaving relationship with Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is used by God to lead us and guide us. Jesus said the Holy Spirit is the Helper, the Teacher, the Comforter and the Spirit of Truth. Jesus said the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and abides in ALL believers. Because He comes from the Father and abides in all believers the Holy Spirit is able to disclose to us the things of God.

When we say the Holy Spirit discloses the things of God, it means He opens them up to us. He gives us access to the thoughts and desires of God. Through this disclosure, the Holy Spirit speaks to us. He doesn’t speak the thoughts of selfish little kids fussing and fighting – words echoed by a parakeet – no! He speaks the words of THE Paraclete. He comes alongside to speak words of help, words of comfort, and words of truth. He speaks the will and the wisdom of the Father! He speaks the things of God. Yes! God still speaks. He does it by the power of the Holy Spirit and #2; He speaks primarily through His Word.

God Still Speaks
1. By His Spirit.
2. Through His Word.

Paul said in 2 Timothy 3:16

2 Tim 3:16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

We are so blessed to have access to God’s word in the bible. As Paul said in his second letter to Timothy, all scripture is inspired by God. A literal translation of the Greek word “theopneustos” is used by the NIV which says, “All scripture is God-breathed.” That means that all of the words in the bible emanated from God. When the men who wrote the various books of the bible picked up a pen to write, they were writing at the direction and inspiration of God. When we read the bible we may see different styles of writing and different personalities of those who wrote, but whatever passage we read, we are seeing words from one author. We are reading the words of the Living God, the Maker of Heaven and Earth, the Creator of the Universe, the words of Him who called all things into existence.

Sometimes people say, “I wish God would speak to me.” My response is, “He has! He has given you His word!” Pick up His book! It’s the #1 best seller of all time! He’s got something to say to you. Whatever your situation is, God will speak to you about it. Any problem, any obstacle, any hindrance and any fear you may have has already been addressed by God in this book. My 5 year old granddaughter Avery sings a song, “The BIBLE – that’s the book for me! I stand alone on the word of God, the BIBLE!” The words of Holy Scripture, the words of the Bible, of God disclose to us God’s will. God speaks by His Spirit, through His word and # 3; God speaks through His People.

God Still Speaks
1. By His Spirit.
2. Through His Word.
3. Through His People.

After His glorious resurrection and His victory over death, Jesus commissioned His disciples to go forth and carry His message. He said to them in John 20:21

John 20:21 “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”

The Lord calls on His people to speak on His behalf. In chapter 37 of Ezekiel, the Spirit of the Lord carried Ezekiel out to a valley filled with dry bones. God asked Ezekiel, “Can these bones live?” Ezekiel answered, “Oh Lord, only You know.” Then God commanded Ezekiel to speak to the bones. Ezekiel spoke on God’s behalf just as God commanded. Then God’s spirit came upon the bones and caused the bones to come back together and to come alive and form an exceedingly great army. God then sent Ezekiel to go and speak to the people just as he had spoken to those dry bones. Now catch this; God chose to speak through Ezekiel even though God could have spoken directly to the bones and to the people all by Himself. It pleases God to speak through His people. That’s not just Old Testament theology. Jesus said, “As the Father sent Me, I am sending you.”

As believers we are called not just to be vessels of righteousness but to also be voices of righteousness. Just as Christ came and spoke words of life, words of salvation, words of comfort and words of grace, we are to go forth and speak those same words. And I have to tell you, there are people in our neighborhoods, in our work places, in our schools, in our families and in our spheres of influence that desperately need to hear His words. Paul reminds us of this fact in Romans 10:13 – 15.

Rom 10:13 for “Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent?

You say, “I’m not a preacher.” And I say, “Yes you are!” We all preach something by the way we live and how we walk and talk. If you have placed your faith and trust in Christ as your Savior, you have been sent to share the good news with somebody! The Lord is sending you to speak words of mercy, words of comfort, words of grace and words of salvation. He is sending you to speak words that can make an eternal difference in someone’s life. He is sending you, because God speaks through His People! God speaks by the Holy Spirit, His word, His People and through OUR CIRCUMSTANCE.

God Still Speaks
1. By His Spirit.
2. Through His Word.
3. Through His People.
4. Through our circumstance.

The bible says in Proverbs 16:9,

Prov 16:9 The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.

There are so many times that we do our planning and our strategizing and we think we have it all figured out. Sometimes we are so intent on carrying out our plans or having things go our way, we don’t place ourselves in a position to listen to God. Because our vision can become so limited, God has no other option but to speak to us and disclose His will to us except by directing our circumstance. He causes situations to arise in our lives that place us where He wants us to be, not where we want us to be.

In the Old Testament there was a young man named Joseph. Joseph was a godly young man who did his best to live a righteous life that honored God. Joseph was given a vision by God that one day, he would be in a position of authority over his older brothers and they would bow down before him. Joseph promptly went out and told his brothers about this and they got so upset they threw Joseph in a pit and sold him into slavery. Joseph was carried off to be a slave in the pagan land of Egypt. In Egypt Joseph was thrown in prison for a couple of years, but eventually he was elevated to a position of authority. Twenty years later when a famine threatens to starve his family, his brothers come and they end up bowing down before Joseph just as God had said. As the story unfolds, Joseph was able to forgive his brothers because he saw that God was in charge of his circumstances. Joseph told his brothers, “What you meant for evil, God used for good.”

My opinion is that God knew that Joseph, godly, righteous Joseph would have never considered going to live in Egypt; which was a land of pagans. Joseph would have thought that he must be hearing wrong, so God orchestrated events and allowed Joseph to be sold in to slavery so He could get him in Egypt. God speaks to us, leads us and directs us by events in our lives because sometimes that is the only way He can get us to where He wants us to be. God speaks by the Holy Spirit, through His Word, through His people, through our circumstance, and my last point today, TO OUR SPIRIT.

God Still Speaks
1. By His Spirit.
2. Through His Word.
3. Through His People.
4. Through our circumstance.
5. To our spirit.

David said in Psalm 16:7 :

PS 16:7 I will bless the Lord who has counseled me; Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.

God speaks to us in many ways. He even speaks to our spirit, through that still quiet voice, through burdens He lays on our hearts and He even speaks to our spirit through dreams and visions. Please understand that all of those ways will always line up with His word. Oh my goodness the Lord desires to speak to us and that means that we must be willing to receive His counsel. We need to engage ourselves in the prayerful study of His word, we must be willing to listen to those that He sends to speak to us, we must spend time considering how we see Him moving in our circumstances and we must have a quiet time where we just listen to the Lord speaking to our spirit.

I want to share with you a personal testimony of some ways that the Lord has spoken to me. My wife and I were married in 1985. At that time I met her grandparents, who we affectionately referred to as Nana and Grandpa. Nana was a very loving, compassionate lady and she loved to serve others. That was a good thing because the man she married loved to be served! Grandpa was born to a poor family and worked very hard all of his life. He was still running his own loan business well into his 80’s. In the first few years of our marriage, I felt like I got to know Grandpa pretty well. I remember one night down in Harlingen, Texas sitting around the kitchen table with Nana and Grandpa and Marta and the topic of heaven came up. During the conversation, Nana expressed that she knew she was going to heaven because she had placed her trust in Christ many years before.

As we rejoiced in that, my attention turned to Grandpa who seemed to be fidgeting in his chair. I asked him if he had placed his faith in Christ. He fidgeted some more and passed his hand through the air indicating that he did not want to talk about such things. I left it off with a simple statement of “maybe we can talk about it some other time.” I remember leaving the table that night with a resolve in my heart to pray for him and speak with him again about the blessings that Christ offers us. As I thought about the fact that someone his age rarely changes their mind over anything God spoke to me through His Word. I remembered the parable in Matthew 20 about the laborer who came in at the last hour and yet still received the same wage as those who had worked all day long for the Master. I remembered 2 Peter 3:9 that says “God is patient and long suffering, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” Over the next couple of years, I brought up the subject of faith a few times and I was always met with a polite but firm shake of the head and a passing of the hand.

A couple of more years passed and I received a call one day at work from my wife Marta about Grandpa. He was about 89 years old at that time as best I recall. He had been loading bricks into the back of a hatchback in his driveway when the car began to roll down the driveway. Grandpa tried to stop the car and he slipped and became pinned under the back tire. He was stuck under that car in the hot August sun all afternoon before a neighbor found him. An ambulance took him to the hospital and he was placed in ICU. His kidneys were shutting down and his heart was very weak. The prognosis was not good.

I got the call as I was leaving work. I still remember my walk through the parking lot that day. I think I prayed harder that day than I had ever prayed before. I asked God not to let Grandpa die. I confessed that I hadn’t been as diligent about witnessing to Grandpa and praying for him as I should have been. As I prayed, God spoke to my spirit. He gave me a sense of peace and I just knew that Grandpa was going to come out of that hospital. We got a phone call within the next 24 hours saying that the doctors were amazed at the recovery that Grandpa was making. They talked about how Grandpa just wasn’t ready to give up but I knew it was because God just wasn’t ready to give up on Grandpa! Grandpa did so good they sent him home in just a few days. I thanked God for healing Grandpa and I asked God to provide me with more opportunities to visit with him. Because of the health scare Grandpa and Nana soon moved to San Antonio to be closer to family members who lived there who could watch over them.

During the upcoming months, my job situation became pretty unbearable. Things were so bad that I did something I never thought I would do. I applied for a job in the claims department. I got a job as a claims rep in the Austin area and within a couple of months they transferred me from the office in Austin to one in San Antonio. God was speaking through my circumstances. He made a way for me to see Grandpa on a regular basis. As I drove to San Antonio several times a week, I made regular trips to see Nana and Grandpa. Nana fed me and Grandpa helped me practice my Spanish and from time to time and I had opportunities to talk about Christ.

After a few years in San Antonio, Nana passed away. Now when I visited it was just me and Grandpa at the table. After a while Grandpa got sick. When I visited him in the hospital he confided in me that he was worried about Nana and I tried to encourage him. I told him that because Nana had asked for forgiveness and placed her trust in Christ she was in heaven. I asked him if he had ever confessed his need for forgiveness and his need for a savior. Once again, there was the shaking of the head and the passing of the hand. I went home that day feeling very much discouraged. I remember that it was a Thursday. I prayed and once again, I prayed hard. I told God that He needed to send somebody else. I told Him that I wasn’t making any progress. I prayed that somebody would meet Grandpa in the hospital and share the gospel with him in such a way that it would move Grandpa to ask Christ into his heart.

That next Monday morning, I had the day off and I was at home in Austin. About 9:00 am I got a call from my mother-in-law, Nana Carole. God spoke to me through her. She told me that she had been praying during her devotional time and God impressed upon her to call me and tell me to go and see Grandpa. I told her that it was my day off and that I was going to be in San Antonio the next day. She said, “You are supposed to go today.” I got in the car and headed to San Antonio. When I got to the hospital Grandpa was being released to go home. Before he left I was able to share with him. This time there was no shaking of the head or passing of the hand. There in that hospital, a man well in his 90’s prayed for forgiveness and asked Jesus Christ to be His Savior.

During those years, God spoke; He spoke loud and clear. God spoke through the power of the Holy Spirit, His word, His people and He spoke through circumstances. He spoke so that someone could come into a personal, lifesaving relationship with His Son. He spoke so that someone would receive eternal life. God still speaks today. It is never a question of whether or not He is still speaking. The only question is, “Are we still listening?”

John 10:27 My sheep hear My Voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My Hand.

I believe that if you listen, you will hear Him speaking to you, you will know that He still offers, grace, comfort and He still extends His Hand offering eternal life. Are you listening?

Let us pray for the ability to better recognize His Voice and to respond obediently when He speaks. Amen

Posted in Christianity, faith, God, God has a plan for you, God Still Speaks, Holy Spirit, How to hear God, inspirational, John 10:27, prayer, religion, the Bible | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Letters, Addresses and God’s Word

Every week I write letters and send a copy of one of my sermons to some men who are serving time in various prisons across the state.  Some of these men I have been corresponding with for several years; some just a few months.  I am told that the sermons that are sent are generally passed around among their group of friends and sometimes used as a part of their own small group studies.  Please pray for these men that the Lord will speak to them, that they will listen and allow Him to order their steps.  You know, that is a good prayer that all of us could use.  I ask that you pray that same prayer for me.  Recently, I had one of my letters returned to me.  In my haste to address the envelope I left off part of the address.  Naturally I left off the most important part, the city and the state.  Seems I gave the post office too many options.  Can’t blame them for sending it back.  This letter that I meant to go across the state to minister to someone boomeranged right back to me and my effort was a complete flop.

As I thought about how I needed to be more careful next time, I also thought how grateful I was that the Lord God does not make any mistakes like that or any mistakes at all.  He has never had a letter or message go forth and come back undeliverable or return to sender.  His word always accomplishes what He intends.  God tells us in Isaiah 55:10 – 11

Isa 55:10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; 11 So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”

The Lord’s Word will do what He intends it to do.  His Word will accomplish His purposes.  I took that letter that had been returned to me and placed it in a fresh envelope, with a complete address and a couple of brand new stamps and sent it out.  I pray that it will be read and well received.  I pray that the Lord will use it to minister to those who need His comfort, His mercy, His grace and His strength.  I trust that He will.

Posted in Christianity, faith, God, Isaiah 55:10-11, religion, witnessing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment