Fires of Life that Build and Restore…

Hebrews 12:11 “Now no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”

Fires of Life that Build and Restore…

Each summer we read of fires out west and around the world. We frequently think of them as being disasters. Did you know there are fires in our lives that are intended to develop us spiritually? And yes, we frequently view those as disasters also. There are some misguided souls that teach that if you have fires in your life it is not a good thing or it is because of weak faith. The biblical reality is that some fires in our lives are noted in scripture as trials and tribulations and are required for our spiritual development of our faith.

When we view the reports of the wild fires or drive by where one has been we see that over time they actually renew life. If you’re going through a fire in your life right now, that will be something very important for you to mentally grab a hold of. If you don’t, all you’ll see is the damage and you’ll lose any sense of hope. And then instead of renewal or development the fires bring on discouragement.

It may be that those fires (trials and tribulations) have burned through your family recently, or your church, maybe your business or your relationships. Maybe they have affected your health. And there is no doubt that the fire has taken away a lot. There’s no denying the pain from the fire, but that’s never the whole story. You need to know the “rest of the story”. Maybe what we view as damage is actually development. What a paradigm shift!

1 Peter 1:6-7 “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;”

God describes the fires of life as trials. If you are a believer the only fire in your life not from God are those that are a result of sin. God sees us as valuable like gold. The fires are not forever; they are “for a little while”. And notice what the purpose of the fires or trials is. The purpose is not to destroy but to “refine” the gold or to get the impurities out so that it increases its value. And if we are honest with ourselves we have many impurities that we need to be purged from our lives.

The challenge we have is to view those fires as trials and tribulations sent from God. To count them as joy as James 1:2, 3 says. That’s a tough one but if you believe that God is doing a work in your life that knowledge will give you the courage to say thank you to endure. God sees us as worthy of purifying, improving, and getting ready for greater things. But that requires denial of self and spiritual development on our part. The fire that appears to take away so much, actually brings new life if we stay close to God during the fire.

What kind of new life does God bring out of the flames? For one thing, He helps us focus the rest of our life on the things that really matter. Everything in our lives goes in one of two columns. One column for things that really matter and another for the things that don’t. A lot of times we get those columns confused. When we ask God for the wisdom to know the difference we then can set God focused priorities. When we look to God we then can emerge from the fire more committed to His glory instead of self comfort and glory.

The fire often forces you to sort out where your identity is really anchored. Is it in a person, your job, or your title, or your performance, or your appearance, or in your relationship with Jesus Christ? Or putting it another way the fires help us to see where our real priorities in life are. Are they in self or in serving our Savior? The flames often drive you to a new closeness to Jesus.

Yes, the fire destroys. But it only destroys the parts or things of our lives that have no eternal value. And thank God, that is not the end of the story. The fire also renews!

Portions from Ron Hutchcraft Ministries and “Renewing Fire.”

II Cor 12:9 “And he said unto me, my grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Funny how…Where my Treasure is…

Luke 9:23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily,

Funny how…Where my Treasure is…

Actions truly do speak louder than words.

Funny how a $100 bill “looks” so big when you take it to church, but so
small when you take it to the mall.

Funny how long it takes to serve God for an hour, but how quickly a Team
plays 60 minutes of football.

Funny how long a couple of hours spent at church seems, but how short
they are when watching a movie.

Funny how we can’t think of anything to say when we pray, but don’t have
difficulty thinking of things to talk about to a friend.

Funny how we get thrilled when a baseball game goes into extra innings,
but we complain when serving takes too much of our ‘leisure’ time.

Funny how hard it is to read a chapter in the bible, but how easy it is
to read 100 pages of a bestselling novel or spend hours on the Internet.

Funny how people want to get a front seat at any game or concert, but
scramble to get a back seat at church services.

Funny how we need 2 or 3 weeks advance notice to fit a fellowshipping
event into our schedule, but can adjust our schedule for other events at
the last moment.

Funny how hard it is for people to memorize verses to share the gospel with

others, but how simple it is for the same people to understand and repeat gossip.

Funny how we believe what the newspaper says, but question what the Bible says.

Funny how everyone wants to go to heaven but don’t want to listen to the Gospel.

Funny how you can send a thousand ‘jokes’ through e-mail and they spread
like wildfire, but when you start sending messages regarding the Lord or
from His word, people think twice about sharing.

Mat 6:21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Where is your heart this morning? I doubt there is one out there with myself

included who wasn’t a bit offended by one of those challenges. So…….

Romans 12:1, 2 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

The Real CHRISTian…

The Real CHRISTian…

 I Pet 2:9-10 “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a
holy nation,, His own people, THAT YOU MAY PROCLAIM the
praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had
not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.”

A.W. Tozier

“The real Christian is an odd human being anyway. The Christian
feels supreme love for One he has never seen, he talks everyday with
Someone he cannot see, he expects to go to heaven on the virtue of
Someone else, he empties himself in order to be full, he admits he is
wrong so he can be declared right, he goes down in order to get up, he
is strongest when he is weakest, richest when he is the poorest,
happiest when he feels the worst, he dies so he can live, he forsakes in
order to have, he gives away so he can keep he sees the invisible, hears
the inauditable, knows that which passes knowledge.”

The test. What is your life proclaiming? And of course remember, the
biblical requirement for being a Christian is that, ‘you must be born again’

Acts 11:26 “And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch.
And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with
the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called
Christians first in Antioch.”

Luke 9:23 “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him
deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”

HAVE A GREAT DAY SERVING JESUS and remember what real
priorities Jesus would have you to practice!!!!

Someday…then comes Eternity…

Romans 14:11, 12 “For it is written: ‘As I live, says the Lord, every
knee shall bow to Me. And every tongue shall confess to
God.’ So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.”

Psalm 22:29 “All the prosperous of the earth shall eat and worship; All
those who go down to the dust shall bow before Him, even he
who cannot keep himself alive.”

Someday…then comes Eternity…Where…

Did you know that you and I are accountable for all of our
actions? I know that sin is a word that is almost nonexistent in our
modern day language but some things do not change with time.

Accountability is one of them. God’s truths and values never change.
That means that we are held to the same standards as those having gone
before us. Those who have not received Jesus as their Savior or have not
been ‘Born Again’ will have to give account of all of their sins. And
as scripture says there are none righteous (Rom 3:10), no not one, and
all of our perceived righteous deeds are viewed as filthy rags (Isa64:6)
in the eyes of God.

I find it interesting that mankind tries the same escape
activities today as they did from the beginning. Listen to what Adam and
Eve said when their moment of accountability came.

Gen 3:11-13 “And He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you
eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?’
Then the man said, ‘The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me
of the tree, and I ate.’ And the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is
this you have done?’ And the woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.'”

Accountability in God’s eyes rests with the offender and not their family heritage
or surroundings or any other person, place or organization.

Gen 3:16-19 “To the woman he said, ‘ I will greatly multiply your sorrow
and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; your desire
shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.’ Then to Adam he
said, ‘Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten
from the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it;’
Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it all the
days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for
you, and you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of
it you were taken; For dust you are, and to dust you shall return.”

That’s the ugly part, here is the best part! Someone took your
place if you will accept His sacrifice for your sins. Sin brought on death both spiritual and
physical, thorns, thistles, diseases, etc. Some day everyone will have to give
account for their own deeds… unless you have been ‘Born again”.

Then Jesus took your place.

No sacrifice of our own or of our churches or of our friends can
take away our sins. Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice and His was
without blemish. He alone is worthy to be a sacrifice for our sins.

As the book of Hebrews says, without the shedding of blood there can
be no remission of sins and the sacrifice must be from a spotless Lamb.

Fortunately for us;

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whosoever believes in Him, should not perish but have life everlasting.”
Jesus paid for my sins and took upon Himself my accountability. How about you?

If Jesus is your Savior today rejoice. If He is not or you are not sure then it is
time to settle up with God!!! Check it out for yourself;

Romans 3:10, 3:23
Romans 6:23
Ephesians 2:8, 9
Romans 5:8
Romans 10:13

John 3:3  and 14:6

Change is Not always Good…

II Chronicles 7:14 “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

Change is not always Good…

One evening a boy was talking to his Great-grandfather about current events.
He asked him what he thought about the shootings at schools, the
computer age, and just things in general. His Granddad replied,
“Well, let me think a minute.”

“I was born before television, penicillin, polio shots, frozen foods,
Xerox, contact lenses, Frisbees, the computer and the pill. There weren’t things like radar, credit cards, laser beams or ball-point pens.”

“Mankind had not invented dishwashers, clothes dryers, electric blankets,
air conditioners, and he hadn’t walked on the moon.
“Your grandma and I got married first — then lived together as God designed it.”

“Every family had a father and a mother, and most boys over 14 had a rifle that their dad taught them how to use and respect. Until I was 25, I called every man older than I, ‘Sir’ — and after I turned 25, I still called policemen and every man with a title, ‘Sir.'” I opened doors for ladies so they felt respected.
“In our time, closets were for clothes – not for ‘coming out of.'”

“Sundays were set aside for going to church as a family, helping those in need, and just visiting with family or neighbors. We were before gay-rights, computer-dating, dual careers, daycare centers, and group therapy care.
“Our lives were governed by the Ten Commandments, good judgment, and
common sense.”

“We were taught to know the difference between right and wrong and to stand up and take responsibility for our actions. Although like today, we frequently did not.”

“Serving your country was a privilege; living here was a bigger
privilege and responsibility.”

“We thought fast food was what people ate too quickly at the table.”

“Having a meaningful relationship meant getting along with your cousins.”

“Draft dodgers were people who closed their front doors when the evening
breeze started.”

“Time-sharing meant time the family spent together in the evenings and
weekends — not in condominiums once a year.”

“We never heard of FM radios, tape decks, CDs, computers, electric typewriters, yogurt, or guys wearing earrings.”

“We listened to the Big Bands, Jack Benny, and the President’s speeches on radio’

“I don’t ever remember any kid blowing his brains out listening to the Supremes.”

“If you saw anything with ‘Made in Japan’ on it, it was junk.”

“Nothing was imported from China.”

“The term ‘making out’ referred to how you did on your school exam.”

“Pizza Hut, McDonald’s, Walmart and instant coffee were unheard of.”

“5 and 10-cent stores were where you could actually buy things for 5 and 10 cents.”

“Ice cream cones, phone calls, rides on a streetcar, and a Pepsi were all a nickel.”

“And if you didn’t want to splurge, you could spend your nickel on
enough stamps to mail 1 letter and 2 postcards.”

“You could buy a new Chevy Coupe for $600, but who could afford one? Too
bad, because gas was 11 cents a gallon.”

“In my day, ‘grass’ was mowed, ‘coke’ was a cold drink, ‘pot’ was
something your mother cooked in, and ‘rock music’ was grandma’s lullaby.”

“‘Aids’ were helpers in the Principal’s office, ‘chip’ meant a piece of wood, ‘hardware” was found in a hardware store, and ‘software’ wasn’t even a word.”

“And my generation that was so dumb as to think a lady needed a husband to have a baby and was special enough to open the door for.”

“No wonder people call us old and confused and say there is such a generation gap.”

“And I’m only 87 years old.”
With “Age” comes progress. Some good and some ugly. Be careful not to adopt them all!

Ecc 3:1 “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.”

Some things/values should NOT change AND ARE GOOD.

Malachi 3:6a “For I am the Lord, I change not …”

So, yes there are absolutes in this world and they are all recorded and protected for our benefit.

II Tim 3:16, 17 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

The 10 Commandments….

Exodus 20:2a-6 “I am the Lord your God…

  • “You shall have no other gods before
  • “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

The 10 Commandments….

When you hear of someone worshipping an Idol you usually picture some statue with people praying to it and even making offerings to it. So when you are asked if you worship idols you immediately think that you are not in with those folks.  You see yourself as being good at least on the first two commandments of God having to do with idol worship. If we truly are keeping the first two then the other eight noted below should be easy. But if you are breaking the first two then the next eight are usually a product of that sin of idolatry. Look at them and you will see that if you are worshipping anything, person or statue and not worshipping God then breaking the other eight automatically in process. And remember that says we can sin with the mind as well as our hands. An example is anger. We can murder with the mind, commit adultery with the mind and sadly so it goes.

  • “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
  • “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.
  • “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
  • “You shall not murder.
  • “You shall not commit adultery.
  • “You shall not steal.
  • “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
  • “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

So, the real question is whether idolatry is simply the worship of some statue or can it be the worship of other items or people including self. A preacher some 300 years ago gave the following list of 7 questions as a test to folks to see if they were worshipping idols. When you read it you will see that our nature or humanity is the same today as it was then so the test is as relevant today as it was then. I have added the verses that help me on each question and hopefully you also.

  1. What are you most disappointed with right now?
    1. Ex 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me.”
  2. What do you sacrifice your time and money for?
    1. Mat 6:21 “for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”
  3. What do you worry about? What scares you?
    1. 2 Tim 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
    2. Mat 6:33-34 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
  4. Where do you go when you hurt?
    1. Mat 11:28-30 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
  5. What makes you mad? The following is an example of righteous anger…..
    1. Mark 11:15 “So they came to Jerusalem. Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves.”
  6. What brings you the most joy?
    1. Romans 14:17-19 “for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.”
  7. Whose applause do you long for?
    1. 2 Tim 4:7-8 “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.”

 

So, how did you do on the quiz? And if you did not like some of your answers what are you going to do about it?

 

I John 1:8-10 “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”

 

It’s never too late to change your worship patterns.

 

Heb 12:1-2 “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Slow Down-Lives depend on it…

James 4:14 “whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what
is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes
away.”

Slow Down-Lives depend on it!

Jack took a long look at his speedometer before slowing down: 73
in a 55 zone. .. Fourth time in as many months.  How could a guy get caught so
often? When his car had slowed to 10 miles an hour, Jack pulled over, but only partially. Let the cop worry about the potential traffic hazard.

Maybe some other car will tweak his backside with a mirror. The
cop was stepping out of his car, the big pad in hand.  Bob?  Bob from church?

Jack sunk farther into his trench coat.  This was worse than the
coming ticket.  A Christian cop catching a guy from his own church.  A guy who happened to be a little eager to get home after a long day at the office. A guy he was about to play golf with tomorrow.

Jumping out of the car, he approached a man he saw every Sunday, a man
he’d never seen in uniform.

“Hi, Bob.  Fancy meeting you like this. ““Hello, Jack.” “Oh,   I
guess.” Bob seemed uncertain.  Good. “I’ve seen some long days at the office
lately. I’m afraid I bent the rules a bit-just this once. ”

Jack toed at a pebble on the pavement.  “Diane said something
about roast beef and potatoes tonight.  Know what I mean?”

“I know what you mean.  I also know that you have a reputation in our precinct.”

Ouch.  This was not going in the right direction.  Time to change tactics.

“What’d you clock me at?”

“Seventy-one.  Would you sit back in your car, please?”

“Now wait a minute here, Bob.  I checked as soon as I saw you.
I was barely nudging 65.”  The lie seemed to come easier with every ticket.

“Please, Jack, in the car.”
Flustered, Jack hunched himself through the still-open door.
Slamming it shut, he stared at the dashboard. He was in no rush to open the window.  The minutes ticked by.  Bob scribbled away on the pad. Why hadn’t he asked for a driver’s license?  Whatever the reason, it would be a month of Sundays before Jack ever sat near this cop again.  A tap on the door jerked his head to the left.

There was Bob, a folded paper in hand.  Jack rolled down the
window a mere two inches, just enough room for Bob to pass him the slip.

“Thanks.”  Jack could not quite keep the sneer out of his voice.  Bob returned to his car without a word. Jack watched his retreat in the mirror.

Jack unfolded the sheet of paper. How much was this one going to cost?

Wait a minute.  What was this? Joke?  Certainly not a ticket….

Jack began to read:

“Dear Jack,
Once upon a time I had a daughter.  She was six when killed by a
car. You guessed it – a speeding driver.  A fine and three months in jail, and the man was free. Free to hug his daughters.  All three of them.  I only had one, and I’m going to have to wait until heaven before I can ever hug her again.  A thousand times I’ve tried to forgive that man.  A thousand times I thought I had.  Maybe I did, but I need to do it again.  Even now.

Pray for me. And be careful.  My son is all I have left………Bob ”

Jack…twisted around in time to see Bob’s car pull away and
head down the road.  Jack watched until it disappeared.  A full 15 minutes later, he, too, pulled away and drove slowly home, praying for forgiveness and hugging a surprised wife and kids when he arrived.

Life is precious.  Handle with care.

Gen 2:7 “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and
breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”