Archive for the ‘Find God’ Category

Luke 12:13-15

13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

The man in this passage wanted what he thought was rightfully his. From a legal perspective, he may have had a portion of his father’s estate coming to him. The man was anxious at heart, waiting to receive his desired portion of his father’s possessions.

When the man made an appeal to Jesus for him to instruct his brother, who was probably the administrator of their father’s estate to give him his portion Jesus responded with a caution. “Watch out!” In other words, “examine yourself that your greed has not consumed you!” Greed is like cancer that will eat away at your inner being.

This individual probably had a world view that life without “things” or “without an abundance of possessions” is not a quality of life. “Watch Out!” That your worldview is not crowded with thoughts of wanting what someone else has. The Bible refers to this a covetousness.

Jesus responded with “Life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” (V 15) Material things, possessions, will eventually deteriorate, wear out, break down. Or materials thing can be stolen or lost. Jesus taught where our focus and treasure should be in Matthew 6:19-21:

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

We can acquire many possessions and wealth. We can store up great wealth. But in the end, at death’s doorway, someone else will eventually get all your possessions. When you die it will not be how much you held in your hands. What will matter is “Who has you in His hands?” Your soul must be in God’s hands. Jesus taught,

20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ 21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

If you have never given your heart and life to Jesus Christ by repenting of your sins. You can do it right now. Ask Jesus to forgive your sins. Confess He is Lord and Savior. Thank Jesus for dying for your sins and taking your eternal punishment in hell. Thank Him for making a way for you to get into heaven, by His resurrection.

If you want God to have your soul and life in His hands, pray a simple like this.

Dear God, I believe that Jesus is Your Son. That He died for my sin, was buried and rose again from the dead. God, I have sinned against You and I ask You to forgive me. Jesus, I ask you to be my Lord and Savior. Thank You for saving me. In Jesus Name.

If you prayed the prayer, and invited Jesus into your heart, Congratulations! I want you to grow in Christ Jesus.

Things to grow in Christ:

  1. You will want to begin reading your Bible every day.
  2. Begin with the Gospel of John. Read one chapter every day.
  3. Pray every day to God in Jesus Name.
  4. Read a daily devotion. To get a free daily devotion go to https://billygraham.org/devotions/
  5. Get the Living in Christ booklet – https://myhopewithbillygraham.org/product/living-in-christ-booklet/
  6. Watch how God has changed other people’s lives. Watch free videos at https://myhopewithbillygraham.org/programs/
  7. Find a Bible teaching preaching church. Go to http://www.sbc.net/churchsearch/

 

 

 

 

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I am trying to process all the unrest that our country is experiencing the last few years. One thing we must agree on is that any individual or group that spews hatred and the cold-blooded murder of anyone is morally wrong. What America needs now, is peace.

Recently, I was in Macon, Georgia equipping, training, and strategizing to build a network of churches and to resource churches with a simple church evangelism outreach strategy. We had stopped for dinner at a restaurant before heading back to Atlanta.

As we engage our server in conversation, I could tell there was something heavy on her heart and mind. So when she brought our meal, I said, “We are getting ready to ask God to bless our food, is there anything we can pray for you?” Jessica, without hesitation, said, “Pray that I would have peace in my life.”

I responded with, “Do you know the Prince of Peace?” Jessica said, “No, who is he?” I said Jesus is the Prince of Peace and He gives us a peace that surpasses all understanding. Then I asked Jessica if she knew Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior? She said, “Yes I do, Jesus lives in my heart.” So, we prayed for Jessica, that God would pour out His Spirit on her and fill her with His peace.

Needless to say, immediately after we prayed for her, a big smile appeared on her face. And we were treated like kings. Of course, we left a nice tip and a gospel tract as well.

So, the question we must ask ourselves is how can the church be a positive influence during these uncertain times? I am not saying to take sides. We are already on a team, the Jesus Christ team. He is supreme over all. He is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. Lord of lords, and King of kings. He calms the troubled waters. and quiets the storms.

So, we must ask ourselves is “If Jesus were here how would He respond, not react, to the unrest in America? What is it that Jesus would instruct His disciple’s to go and do?

Here are some actions, the church and a Christ follower can do.

The church needs to have regular prayer meetings asking God to send peace and rest to our nation,

Christians should start prayer groups where they live, work, play, to pray for peace and rest for our nation.

It is high time Christians are obedient to Jesus’ Mandate. So we must:

  1. Go and evangelize.
  2. Evangelize on a daily basis.
  3. Evangelize with a purpose to see lost people saved.
  4. Go in confidence trusting and taking God at His Word that “His Word never returns void,”
  5. Realize God sends us in His Holy Spirit Power.”
  6. Go!  because Jesus has told us to “Go and make disciples.”

All of us, starting with myself, must be Jesus with skin on to others. It is too easy to get caught up in the news media regurgitation of stories.

It is better for the church to be a light in a dark situation than to let the news media and government tell us how we should live.

Pray and ask the Lord Jesus Christ to empower you, send you, and use to make the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ known.

 

I recently heard a statistic how the suicide rate and attempts among high school age and college age students is on the rise. We not are hearing about it on the news but the news by word of mouth and social media travels. Our campuses are under a dark, dark cloud. Some if not most have a toxic environment. Most of my missionary and pastor associates would say that the devil has a strangle hold on our campuses and kids.
We must ask, “Why is the suicide rate on the increase among students?” Could it be that Old Testament principle is ever so true, “Confession is good for the soul,” Psalms 119:26. What are some of the benefits of confessing our sins to God? God made us with a spiritual, soul and body. He made us to have a loving relationship with Him, but our sin separates us from God and from having the proper relationship with Him. Jesus death on the cross, burial and resurrection is a blessing from God so that we can have our sins forgiven, Acts 3:26.
According to Romans 3:23, “We are all sinners.” Sin eats at your mind, your body, and your emotions. The effects of sin tears away and at the self-worth and self-esteem that God intends for you to have a child of God. He made you to be a child of the Most High God, Creator of all creation.
Instead, your children have been taught that their origin of life is by chance. They are taught they evolved out of the pool of slimy, soupy, pool of muck from a one cell organism that went through transformations of animal life and eventually became what we are today. What value does life have if your origin is based nothing more than a slimy one cell organism? This lie robs us of the Divine Truth that a loving heavenly God created us with a special plan and design in mind.
Who would conjure such a degrading lie? Well, only someone with such venomous hatred for all humankind. This individual is worse than Adolph Hitler and his regime of hate filled soldiers who brought horrific inhumane atrocities against people. The author of this dehumanizing theory must not only hate all human life but the Creator of life, God. He is known as the devil, Lucifer.
And he continues to steal, kill and destroy life John 10:10, and pervert life. Your children are told if they think it, it must be correct. If you consider a particular lifestyle then you must have been born to live it. If that is true, then we would all be rich, famous, a successful athlete, the best singer in the world, cure cancer, aids, stop world hunger an instant, bring world peace and stop ISIL in their tracks and they would stop beheading innocent Christian men, women and children.
Confession is good for the soul. Without confession of sin, you store up evil and bad thoughts, you store up hatred and bad actions that break God’s laws. You can only take so much pressure and the weight of your sin. God didn’t make you to carry all the weight and guilt of your sin. God provided a way for you to be released from the guilt and weight of your sin. He sent Jesus, His One and Only Son to die on the cross for your sin, so you can have His forgiveness.
Some intellectual individuals, like Voltaire, deny God and his existence. Voltaire eventually went crazy and was cared for by the very people he hated, Christians. Sin will make you feel guilty and tear you to pieces, emotionally, physically and hinder your mental capacity to make the right decisions.
Everyone needs to confess his and her sins to God, on a daily basis. When you pray asking God to forgive your sins, He pours on you His cleansing Spirit. But you must begin first by acknowledging Jesus Christ as God’s Son. Admit to God you have sinned against Him. Believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, because only He has died in your place for your sin. Confess your sin to God, and ask Jesus to be your Lord and Savior. Ask God to cleanse you from all your sin.
Next you need to find a Bible teaching and preaching church and tell the pastor of your decision to surrender your life to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and be baptized as a believer in Jesus.
We Christians need to begin praying our campuses. The Church needs to begin praying for and prayerwalking the college campuses. Students need to know that there is a holy, loving God who wants His best for them and to bring forgiveness, and comfort.
The apostle Paul, the New Testament writer, who penned the majority of the 39 New Testament books, wrote, ““If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9) Our campuses and our nation God to send His Spirit to awaken lost people and save them. Pray for our churches to become alive again and passionate for God, taking the Gospel to the people once again.

In the Gospel of John 15, Jesus tells His disciples that unless they remain in Him they can do not.

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

Did Jesus really mean that we can nothing at all? No, it means that we can nothing of kingdom significance unless we stay in His Word. We must stay in prayer. We must stay in His presence. Unless we remain in “Him” we cannot do nothing without His Spirit’s power.

We must remain connected to Him, like a branch is connected, drawing nourishment and energy from the life of the Vine. Jesus is our Vine. He is our power and energy to do Kingdom work. Like I have said many times, “We witness out of the overflow of our walk with God.” Well, we preach, we witness, we serve, we live out of the overflow of our walk with God.

Unless we remain in Jesus, we can do nothing.

 

When you read Isaiah 9:8-21; Jeremiah 23:1-2 Ezekiel 13:1-3; Zechariah 13, we see that God is gravely grieved by the shepherds who He put in place to lead His people and teach His truths to His people. These false prophets instead of teaching God’s Holy Word substitute it with their own opinions and misinterpretations. God promises to unleash His wrath on the false prophets.

What was it that these men said that caused God to pronounce punishment and destruction of His people, the country of Israel, and even the Temple? According to one Commentator,

The leaders of this people cause them to err (comp. Isaiah 3:12). Both the peoples were led into idolatry by their rulers, but Israel especially. Jeroboam, the first king, introduced the calf-worship, and his successors from first to last persisted in his sin. Ahab added the still grossest idolatry of Baal. Those who held high position under the kings were equally bad examples to the people (see above, Isaiah 1:2:3). Are destroyed. First, morally corrupted and debased, then physically given over to destruction – slaughtered by Philistines, Syrians, and Assyrians.(Pulpit Commentary)

When Isaiah called the people to repent and turn back to God, and follow Him, they refused.

In the Jeremiah “The prophet denounces vengeance against the pastors of Israel who have scattered and destroyed the flock of the Lord, Jeremiah 23:1Jeremiah 23:2.”

We see two points to God’s message: (1) Wo be unto the pastors – There shall a curse fall on the kings, princes, priests, and prophets; who, by their vicious conduct and example, have brought desolation upon the people.

(2) Ye have scattered my flock – The bad government both in Church and State was a principal cause of the people’s profligacy. (Clarke’s Commentary)

God instructed Ezekiel’s to preach a message of doom and punishment as well. God’s accusation against the false prophets was

What they prophesied was what they and the people wished; the wish was father to the thought. The people wished to be deceived, and so were deceived. They were inexcusable, for they had among them true prophets (who spoke not their own thoughts, but as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, 2Pe 1:21), whom they might have known to be such, but they did not wish to know (John 3:19).

Zechariah was Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel called the religious leaders to repentance as the people.

Thus declares the LORD of hosts: Return to me, says the LORD of hosts, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts. 4Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets cried out, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, Return from your evil ways and from your evil deeds.’ But they did not hear or pay attention to me, declares the LORD. (Zechariah 13:3)

Zechariah calls the people to repentance. He was calling them to take an active part in rebuilding the temple, thus carrying on the exhortations of Haggai, but also with reference to their general indevotion and laxity which Ezra afterwards had to reprove (see Ezra 9:2)

Today we do not need God is not calling us to rebuild church buildings. He is calling us to rebuild, to get connected with Him on a holy level. Christians need to work on building their relationship with God our Father. We have become out of touch with him. We have left our first Love.

Today we are misinterpreting God’s Word and instead of teaching His people what God’s wants there are a few who are misleading the people with false teachings. You know who they are. Others are not teaching anything wrong, their error is they are not teaching the all that God has given us in His Word.

Revival will begin with first taking the entire Word of God and seeking to live it out. God’s mandate for the church today is to Win disciples with the Gospel and teach the new believers what God has said and to mentor them how to obey God’s Word. This is where we need to start. The church needs to repent, pray for the God’s power to be unleashed, pray for opportunities to reach lost people with the Gospel and not just acts of kindness. Acts of kindness without evangelism is not New Testament kindness. It is man’s version of God’s intended Acts of Kindness resulting in evangelistic conversations and presentations.

I have been researching the Middle Eastern, Jewish practice for how they preserved their grapes, grape juice for several years. I have had an interest in this topic, primarily since I grew up in a home where beer and hard liquor was readily available in our home, at family gatherings, and many ceremonial celebrations.

Because of the easy accessibility to alcohol, I was getting drunk starting about the fifth or sixth grade at family and social functions. It was easy to sneak a beer or two more and drink down the alcoholic drink in a minute or two. I have spent a considerable amount of time reading books and even dissertation work by a Ph.D from Europe on what the Bible says about wine and alcohol and the preservation by the Jews.

If you do an internet search you will find that the ancient process for squeezing grapes or pressing grapes to get the juice is still practiced. The juice is called “must” or “dibbs”. The Jews would then cook down the juice grape much like maple syrup is cooked down into a syrup consistency.

Then the Jewish practice was to put the “new” or “young” wine into new or purified pots or what is referred to as “wine skins”. The Jews were continually experimenting how to purify pots that had contained juice previously due to old wine particles or traces of the old juice left in the reused pots. Their goal was to keep the “new” or “young” wine from fermenting in reused pots.

The reference that Jesus made about not putting “new wine” into old wine skins gives both a practical and spiritual application. For the practical application, acidity of the grape syrup would eventually cause the skin to become brittle and the skin would crack allowing air and light to cause the contents to ferment quicker and the old wine skin would expand and eventually bust spilling the contents on the ground; that is why Jesus recommended the use of new skins.

For the spiritual application, you don’t put a new system into an old system and expect it to fit. Jesus was introducing a new way to God. The former way was that Israel had to go through the Levitical priests and the chosen High priest to hear from God. Jesus, the final High Priest of God, was introducing the new way of any man, any individual to hear and know God by receiving God’s Spirit by faith in Jesus Christ alone. God was bringing to fulfillment the Law in Christ Jesus, Romans 10:4, “Christ is the end of the law, so that there may be righteousness for all who believe.”

I want to let God’s Word speak for itself on this topic and try to give clear explanation of the verses.

Text: Proverbs 20:1

Introduction: Jesus Christ said, “I am the Vine and My Father the Vine dresser.” John 15:1.  Jesus again said, “I am the Vine and you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he will bear much, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.” John 16:5-6. How did Jesus describe Himself? The Vine, and not the Vat.

Ephesians 5:18, Contrast between allowing yourself to be controlled by intoxicating drink versus allowing yourself to be controlled by the Holy Spirit, you can’t do both.

1 Corinthians 5:11, “don’t associate with a drunkard”

1 Thess. 5:7, Qualifications of Elders/ deacons, “no one accused of dissipation. Root word “Sip” sipping from the cup. JOKE!

I Peter 4:3-4: V 3 “you once pursued this kind of lifestyle, but now since Jesus has saved you, the things you pursue are of God.  (No change, No Christ)

V 4, The friends you ran with, drinking buddies, are surprised that you have stopped excessive “dissipation” drinking with them. They might even make fun of you that you got religion. They might even take bets as to how long you will continue to live religious or be holier than thou!

God’s Word has much to say about consuming alcohol and the attitude to toward it, and the effects of it. Let’s dig deep to see what God’s Word has to say to us this morning.

I. Alcohol’s Deceptive Control Prov. 20:1; 23:19-21

A. What was King Solomon’s warning for his son?

  • Prov. 20:1 “Wine is a mocker, Strong drink a brawler, who is intoxicated by it is not wise.”
  • It seems hard to believe that men of the greatest abilities, as well as the ignorant, should render themselves fools and madmen, merely for the taste or excitement produced by strong liquors” Matthew Henry
  • Ephesians 5:18 “Don’t even take the first drink which will lead to drunkenness or being under control of fermented drink, but instead keep allowing yourself to be controlled by the Holy Spirit.” (a literal translation from the Koione Greek, my work)

 

II. Prov.23:19-21 – (19) Listen, and be wise(21) or gluttonous eater

  1. (20) Do not be a heavy drinker
  • Don’t be out of control  Gal. 5:23 being under control is evidence of the fruit of the Spirit
  • Allow the Spirit to lead you!

III. Alcohol’s Damaging Force Prov. 23:29-30

  1. Vv 26-28-Solomon precedes drinking alcoholic drink with being with a harlot. They go hand in hand with each other.
  2. What questions does he ask in these verses? Who has:
  1. Woe? Sorrow? Contentions? Complaining?
  2. The writer tells us who this person is with all these problems in verse 30
  3. The person who lingers over wine or whatever alcoholic drink of your choice.
  • Mixed Wine: is old wine, more fermented higher alcohol content
  • Would not mix the grape syrup with correct water measurements, One part must or dibbs with two parts water of equal measurements

IV. Alcohol’s Addictive Control Prov. 23:31-35

  1. In these verses the writer explains why the person is having so many problems.
  • V31 Don’t look at it when it is RED. When it sparkles, with its “pearls” or bubbles or fermentation. Don’t let it entice to become its salve.
  • V 32 “a serpent” and a viper both the most venous snakes. Deadly
  • Most deadly snake in world is African Black Mamba, if bitten in artery or vein, venom will go to heart and kill in 2.5 minutes.
  • V33-35 “Hallucinate” strange things” Distorted vision and speech. Illustrate:  Pink Elephant
  • What did he say about a man lying down in the sea? Who in the right mind would do that?

V. Alcohol’s Confusing Force Prov. 31:4-5

  1. Drinking is not for kings. What does 1 Peter 2:9 say about those who are saved?
  2. “But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION,”
  3. If a person drinks fermented drink they allow their cognitive decision making to be impaired. If you get drunk, you are living unholy in God’s eyes. Why? You are hindering the Holy Spirit in your life.

VI. Alcohol’s Medicinal Influence Prov. 31:6-7

  1. Who can have a strong drink?
  2. V 6 “Give strong drink to him who is perishing” Was strong drink the prescription drug of the Old Testament? YES
  3. Jesus was offered strong drink to ease his pain, but he refused it, because he wanted not to become insensible to the sorrow to pay for the sins of mankind. Mark 15:23 He wanted to be fully conscious of the penalty for sin.
  4. In 1 Timothy 5:23, Paul instructed Timothy to drink, to mix a little “grape syrup” must or dibbs to cure his stomach infirmity.
  5. Parasites, dysentery the acidity of the grape product would kill the parasites.
  6. “Give it to those in poverty”, used as a prescription for depression. Those who are out of work or severe poverty become depressed and today seek counseling and are sometimes given a sedative.

My previous article, I wrote on “Rethinking How We Measure Evangelism in America Today.” Well this is a follow-up article with a real life story that just happened a few days ago. A young man moved in his spiritual journey toward knowing God and Jesus as Lord and Savior.

These are the words of the young military soldier sitting next to me on the flight from San Antonio, Texas to Atlanta, Georgia, “I have never read the Bible before.” Dustin was probably in his mid-twenties and had grown up in Joplin, Missouri. We talked about the 2011 Joplin tornado that was a catastrophic EF5 multiple-vortex tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri, late in the afternoon of Sunday, May 22, 2011. Dustin had family and friends that were affected by the tornado.

I shared how Southern Baptist churches from across the country have teams trained and are certified to serve as disaster relief recovery teams, in chain saw, water purification, meal preparation, washer and shower trailers, and demudding and debriding. He was very thankful. I also mentioned how Southern Baptist had started new church in Joplin, he was very interested.

Our conversations shifted to belief in God and other religious beliefs. I shared about my degree in the study of world religions. Then I asked Dustin if he had ever read the Bible, that is when responded, “I have never read the Bible before.” Then our conversation moved into the reliability of the Holy Scriptures. I was able to share how I studied “Textual Criticism” as part of my Masters of Divinity in Biblical Languages work and the science of preserving the manuscripts.

Dustin said he had heard there were two sections to the Bible. So we talked about the difference between the Old and New Testament, the former foretelling of the coming Messiah (Hebrew) and how the New Testament was a fulfillment of the Christ (Greek). We talked about the categories of the books in the Old Testament, the writings of Moses beginning with creation, the exodus of Israel and the Law, and the difference between the Major and Minor Prophets and wisdom writings.

The young soldier wanted to know about the books of the New Testament, so we talked about the four Gospels, the Apostle Paul, as one of the most intelligent men during his time, a hater of Jesus, and how he believed in Jesus and God using him to pen the majority of the New Testament books.

This led to us discussing the difference between Islam and Christianity. Our conversation eventually came to who was Jesus. We talked about Jesus’ two natures, fully God and fully man and how his two natures were totally separate and how the Man Jesus had to die for our sins. The crucifixion led to resurrection of Jesus Christ and how He conquered sin, death and the devil and made the only way for people to get to God, and the assurance of God forgiveness and eternal life.

After sharing my life story with Dustin, I asked if he had ever asked God to forgive his sin and had he trusted in Jesus as Lord and Savior. He said, that he had never done that before and probably needed to make that decision. He was not ready at the moment to pray to Jesus. So I gave him my Christian Workers New Testament to read. He thanked me twice for giving him the New Testament and we parted ways. I am praying for Dustin that he will get the place where he hears God’s Spirit leading, prodding him to place his faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior.