He is Looking For You!

I saw a “Posted – No Trespassing” sign the other day and it brought back memories of the days when I was a kid living in the country.  My brother and I used to go exploring and we spent a lot of time walking and hiking through the woods and fields in the countryside near our home.  We saw a lot of those signs.  We never crossed a fence where one of those signs was placed.  Nope.  We always moved down at least another 50 feet, then we crossed the fence.  I never said we were good boys…just boys.  I remember one time we crossed several fences, went further than we meant to go, got all turned around and lost our way.  I think the more we tried to find our way back home the more lost we became; at least it felt that way.  We were plodding along arguing about which way to go, grousing about whose fault it was when out of the blue we heard our father calling for us.  Oh man, was I glad to hear his voice!  We had been gone too long so he came looking for us and he found us.  Oh my goodness was I glad to get back home.  When I look back now and think about that day I think about what the Bible says in Ezekiel 34:11-12

Eze 34:11 For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day.

At the time this verse was written, God was speaking to the nation of Israel.  They had gone astray and been overrun by the nation of Babylon and they were being led by faithless spiritual leaders.  The Lord Himself promised to seek out His people and Shepherd His flock.  He would search for them and deliver them.  Oh my goodness, what an awesome passage of scripture!  What a wonderful promise!  Oh, we need to understand that passage and that promise is not just for Ezekiel’s time.  No, it is not just for the nation of Israel.  There is also a personal application for us today.  We have all trespassed, we have all crossed some boundaries that we shouldn’t have, and we have all lost our way at some time or another and gone some place that God did not want us to go.  And yet despite the fact that we wandered off on our own, despite the fact that we have stayed away far too long, the Lord still comes after us.

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, said, “I have come to seek and to save the lost.”  I promise you that even if you feel lost and alone, you can know that the Good Shepherd is looking for you.  I promise you that in the midst of your wandering, He is calling out to you.  He wants to deliver you from your dark and cloudy days.  No matter how many fences you have crossed, no matter how many signs you have ignored the Lord is still looking for you and desires to have a personal relationship with you!  Don’t keep plodding along, trying to get back on the right path on your own.  Respond to His call.  You will be glad you did.  He offers you grace, He offers you mercy, He offers you forgiveness and eternal life.

Posted in Christianity, Ezekiel 34:11, faith, God, No Trespassing, religion, The Good Shepherd, wandered off | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What About the Bible? Do I Need to Read It?

I was a Christian for many years before I began to read my Bible on a regular basis.  When I finally opened it up, boy was I blessed.  And the truth is, I had been missing out on all those blessings for all those years.  Because of all the blessings in God’s word, I try to read at least a little every day.  Sometimes in the course of conversations with other Christians, I find out that they are just as lax on reading the Bible as I used to be.  Every now and then someone will be honest enough to ask me if it really matters.  “Do I really have to read the Bible?” they want to know.  My response is usually something along the lines of, “You don’t HAVE to read the Bible…you GET to read the Bible!”  There really are blessings to be found in God’s word.  Paul said it like this in 2 Timothy 3:16 – 17:

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

We are so blessed to have access to God’s word!  As Paul reminds us, God’s word provides information, instruction, and training in righteousness.  The Bible is not just some collection of wise sayings written by spiritually minded men designed to help us live a good life.  The Holy Scriptures are inspired by God.  The word Paul used in the Greek that we translate “inspired” is “theopneustos.”  That word is more accurately translated by the NIV translation 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.  God has given us words of information and instruction that will equip us to do what He has called us to do!  He has told us how to live and love in a way that brings Him honor and glory!  Not only does the Bible provide us instruction but it also provides us encouragement and hope.  Paul said in Romans 15:4

Rom 15:4  For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

You can gain encouragement and hope from spending time in God’s word.  With the struggles present in our world today, we need hope.  The hope available in God’s word ought to be reason enough to read it on a regular basis.  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 has something to say to you.  Whatever your situation is, God will speak to you about it.  Any problem, any obstacle, any hindrance or fear you may have has already been addressed by God in this book.  My 5 year old granddaughter Avery sings a song, “The B-I-B-L-E… that’s the book for me!  I stand alone on the word of God, the B-I-B-L-E!”  The words of Holy Scripture, the words in the Bible come from God.   The question is not “Should I read the Bible” but rather “When will I read the Bible?”

Posted in 2 Timothy 3:16, Christianity, faith, God, God Speaks Through His Word, religion, the Bible | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Can I Come to Your House?

Avery 1  avery 2  avery 3Here are some pictures of my 5 year old granddaughter Avery playing softball.  It is her first year to play and she has learned a lot and she is doing really well.  I am so proud of her!  Recently it was the last inning of a close game, Avery was playing third base and the bases were loaded with two outs.  All the coaches are tense and calling out instructions, the parents are into it, and as the noise dies down and the batter gets ready to swing Avery calls out, “Hey Pawpaw! Tonight can I come over to your house?”  It was so cute!

I am not sure she was fully aware of how close the game was or of all that was going on at the time but I do know this…she loves to come over to my house.  She loves to come and spend time with her Pawpaw and her Nana.  She loves to visit with us, talk to us and do things together with us.  She is always asking and wanting to come to our house.  And I also know this – I love it!  I think that the Lord loves it when we want to come to His House.  I think the Lord loves it when we want to spend time with Him and talk to Him and visit with Him.  I think He loves it when we make Him the priority and think of Him first even when in midst of the “teeball games of our lives” the bases may be loaded and there are two outs.  David said it like this in Psalm 122:1 “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD.”

Oh do you love Him?  Do you want to spend time with Him?  I hope you get to go to His House this week!

Posted in Christianity, Church, faith, God, grandchildren, Psalm 122:1, religion | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Redeemed and Renamed

Isaiah 43:1 But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.

This verse has been on my mind a lot lately.  It was the foundation for the first sermon I ever preached.  I love the way this passage speaks to us of the redeeming and renewing power of the Lord.  As I have been praying and meditating on this passage over the last couple of months the Lord has placed a song on my heart.  During that same time, I have seen and heard some conversations both in person and in social media where people are struggling with guilt, shame and fear.  These have been situations where the guilt should be over, the shame should be past and the fear should be gone because those involved have been redeemed by the Great I Am.  From what I can tell these individuals are failing to remember, rest and rely on who they are in Christ.  They are looking back to where they were rather than relying on whose they are and rejoicing in where they are headed!  The Lord goes on to speak through Isaiah in that very same chapter, exhorting His people, “18 Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. 19 Behold, I will do a new thing…”  If you have been struggling with guilt and shame; if you are downcast and discouraged because of your past, this song goes out to you…on behalf of Him.

Redeemed and Renamed

Verse 1
I used to walk around deceived
And I heard lies that I believed
Felt useless and worthless
Because of my sin.
My heart was always in such pain
I knew that I could never change,
Felt helpless and hopeless
But then I met Him….

Chorus:
He has redeemed me and claimed me,
Cleansed me, renamed me,
I am a conqueror, victorious
Child of the King,
With His love He sought me
By His blood He bought me,
It’s glorious, so priceless,
He gives me a reason to sing!

Verse 2
Now I know who I am,
I am loved by the Lamb
It’s marvelous and glorious,
My joy knows no end,
No matter how the world sees me
My Lord will never leave,
His love is boundless, it’s endless,
He calls me His friend.

Bridge:
And I’ve been redeemed by His Blood
And I’ve been saved by His love,
He has turned my life around.
He has filled me with hope
Cleansed me whiter than snow
He has placed me on solid ground.

Chorus:
He has redeemed me and claimed me,
Cleansed me, renamed me,
I am a conqueror, victorious
Child of the King,
With His love He sought me
By His blood He bought me,
It’s glorious, so priceless,
He gives me a reason to sing!

Verse  3
If you know Christ like I do,
Then you know my story’s true,
It’s marvelous and fabulous,
Just to know Him.
He gave His life on Calvary
To pay our debt and set us free,
He’s sinless and selfless,
The Savior of women and men.

Chorus:
He has redeemed us and claimed us,
Cleansed us, renamed us,
We are conquerors, victorious
Children of the King,
With His love He has sought us
With His blood He has bought us,
It’s glorious, so priceless,
He has given us reason to sing!

Bridge:
One day we’ll receive rewards that He will share,
He’ll give us crowns that we won’t wear,
For we’ll toss them all at His feet.
We’ll all be singing and praising
Our God who’s amazing
As we gather round the mercy seat

Chorus:
For He has redeemed us and claimed us,
Cleansed us, renamed us,
We are conquerors, victorious
Children of the King,
With His love He has sought us
With His blood He has bought us,
It’s glorious, so priceless,
He has given us reason to sing!

 

Posted in Church, faith, God, guilt and shame, Isaiah 43:1, redeemed | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sharing is Caring – Sometimes

20150408_084451

I took a picture of this rooster right behind the place we are staying in Key West.  Roosters are pretty cool at 10:00 am but not so cool at 4:00 am when you are on vacation.  This guy heralded the upcoming sunrise every morning…a couple of hours in advance!  I am sure it is beautiful but on vacation I am much more into sunsets than sunrises.  That rooster crowing reminded me of Proverbs 27:14

If anyone loudly blesses their neighbor early in the morning, it will be taken as a curse.

Wow, even crowing about something as beautiful as the sunrise sounds like an ugly, cursing disturbance when the timing is not good or the presentation is not right.  There is a lesson in that for Christians.  We are to speak the truth in love; and the presentation, the timing, and the manner should always come from the Lord.  If it comes from us and is simply based on our passion and not His person, we will be people in the Way not people of the Way.

The Lord will always give us the right words, the right timing, and an abundance of grace and love when we depend on Him while sharing with others.  Now that is something to crow about.  But wait a couple of hours…some people are still trying to sleep. Until next time, stay strong in the faith.

Posted in Christianity, faith, God, Key West, proverbs 27:14, religion, sharing, the love of God, waiting on the Lord, witnessing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Where Can I Go?

20150408_193012 20150408_193026

I took these pictures of my lovely bride when Marta Stephens and I took a walk on the southern most pier in the continental United States.  In one of them you can see the southern most hotel in the continental United States.  No, we are not staying there.  The southern most hotel has prices that are a little north of my budget.  I am told that in years past, a lot of influential and well known people came to this part of the Keys to get away from it all.

Being on the southern most part of the continental U.S. and the thought of people trying to get away from it all reminded me of David’s words in Psalm 139:7 – 8.  David speaking of the Lord says,

“Where can I go from Your Spirit?  Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there…”

David knows that no distance, no location, no problem nor any situation can ever separate Him from the Lord. The Lord is always with Him!  That is a comforting thought for those in a covenant relationship with the Lord.  We serve a God who is always with us and who will never leave us nor forsake us, no matter where our journey takes us.  We had another great day in Key West.

Posted in Christianity, faith, God, inspirational, psalm 139:7, religion | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Indisputable Love

20150407_105612

We drove from Key Largo to Key West today.  We stopped to check out Bahia Honda State Park at mile marker 35.  “Come on in,” she said.  “The water is warm,” she said.   I won’t say she was trying to fool me, but I will say that the temperature of the water and whether or not it is “warm” is truly a matter of opinion.  To me, it was cold!

Yes, some things are a matter of personal opinion, some things are merely preferences,  and some things are relative.  But one thing that is not a matter of opinion and is an indisputable fact is God’s love for us. I know He loves me and has blessed me.  I have been blessed with a wonderful wife, an awesome family, and so much more. God so  loved me and you that He gave His One and Only Son so that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Oh my goodness, what an amazing love He has displayed for us.

Posted in Christianity, faith, God, inspirational, John 3:16, the love of God | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment