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.”

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.”

She Locked Her Keys in the Car Humor…

Phil 4:6a”Be anxious for NOTHING …”

She Locked Her Keys in The Car Humor…

A woman was getting a pie ready to put into the oven when the
Phone rang. It was the school nurse:  Her son had some down with a high
fever and would she come and take him home? The mother calculated how
long it would take to drive to school and back and how long the pie
should bake, and concluded there was enough time. Popping the pie in the
oven, she left for school.

When she arrived, her son’s fever was worse and the nurse urged
her to take him to the doctor. Seeing her son like that – his face
flushed, his body trembling and dripping with perspiration – frayed her,
and she drove to the clinic as fast as she dared.  She was frayed a bit
more waiting for the doctor to emerge from the examining room, which he
was doing now, walking toward her with a slip of paper in his hand. “Get
him to bed,” he told her, handing her the prescription, “and start him
on this right away.”

By the time she got the boy home and in bed and headed out again
for the shopping mall, she was not only frayed, but frazzled and frantic
as well. And she had forgotten about the pie in the oven.

At the mall she found a pharmacy, got the prescription filled and
rushed back to the car. Which was locked. Yes, there were her keys,
hanging in the ignition switch, locked inside the car.

She ran back into the mall, found a phone and called home. When
her son finally answered, she blurted out, “I’ve locked the keys inside
the car!” The boy was barely able to speak.  In a hoarse voice he
whispered, “Get a wire coat hanger, Mom.  You can get in with that.”
The phone went dead.

She began searching the mall for a wire coat hanger, which turned
out not to be easy.  Wooden hangers and plastic hangers were there in
abundance, but shops didn’t use wire hangers anymore.  After combing
through a dozen stores, she found one that was behind the times just
enough to use wire hangers.

Hurrying out of the mall, she allowed herself a smile of relief.
As she was about to step off the curb, she halted.
She stared at the wire coat hanger.  “I don’t know what to do with
this!” Then she remembered the pie in the oven.

All the frustrations of the past hour collapsed on her and she
began crying.  Then she prayed. “Dear Lord, my boy is sick and he needs
this medicine and my pie is in the oven and the keys are locked in the
car and, Lord, I don’t know what to do with this coat hanger.  Dear
Lord, send somebody who does know what do with it, and I really
need that person NOW, Lord.  Amen.”

She was wiping her eyes when a beat-up older car pulled up to the
curb and stopped in front of her.  A young man, twentyish-looking, in a
t-shirt and ragged jeans, got out.

The first thing she noticed about him was the long, stringy hair, and
then the beard that hid everything south of his nose.  He was coming her way.

When he drew near she stepped in front of him and held out the
wire coat hanger.  “Young man,” she said, “Do you know how to get into a
locked car with one of these?”

He gaped at her for a moment, and then plucked the hanger from her
hand. “Where’s the car.”

Telling the story, she said she had never seen anything like it.
It was simply amazing how easily he got into her car.  A quick look at
the door and window, a couple of twists of the coat hanger and bam!
Just like that, the door was open.

When she saw the door open she threw her arms around him.  “Oh,”
she said, “the Lord sent you!  You’re such a good boy.  You must be a
Christian.”

He stepped back and said, “No ma’am, I’m not a Christian, and I’m
not a good boy.  I just got out of prison yesterday.”

She jumped at him and she hugged him again – fiercely.
“Praise be to God!” she cried. “He sent me a professional!”

Phil 4:6, 7 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and
supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made know to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your
Hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

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.”

Never Ending Daily Praise…

Romans 8:38-39 “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Psalm 146:1-10

Praise the Lord!

Let all that I am praise the Lord.
I will praise the Lord as long as I live.
I will sing praises to my God with my dying breath.

Don’t put your confidence in powerful people;
there is no help for you there.

When they breathe their last, they return to the earth,
and all their plans die with them.

But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper,
whose hope is in the Lord their God. He made heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them. He keeps every promise forever.

He gives justice to the oppressed and food to the hungry.
The Lord frees the prisoners.

The Lord opens the eyes of the blind.

The Lord lifts up those who are weighed down.

The Lord loves the godly.

The Lord protects the foreigners among us.

He cares for the orphans and widows, but he frustrates the plans of the wicked.

The Lord will reign forever.

He will be your God, O Jerusalem, throughout the generations

Today, as the Psalmist reminds us I encourage you to put trust
and faith in God and in no event, place or person of this world. Then
and only then is there peace………………..

Praise you the Lord….terrorists cannot take that away….

In our world today there is so much sadness. Suicides, murders
of the living and of those in the womb who have yet to experience their
first breath. Terrorism, shootings on school grounds defying explanation
at least from the scholars of this world. The natural disasters seem to
be increasing and the destruction and death from them also. The heroes
in our world of sports, politics, and churches continue to let us down when
their supposedly hidden lives are revealed.

The news media is having a field day. Each and every day they do
not have to search too far to have sensational stories of new tragedies.

So, you say, why give me this to start my day? The Psalm below reminded
me that even when all around us is in peril and maybe even my life is,
there is One beautiful constant……………..

 

Philip. 4:7 “And the peace of God, which passes all understanding,
shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
PRAISE YOU THE LORD!

A City without Walls…

Proverbs 25:28 “He that has no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.”

A City without Walls!

How is your temper this morning? Do you find yourself saying things that hurt others and then regretting what you said? Many times after you have spouted off you wish you could take those words or that event back but of course you cannot. So, the challenge is, how do I keep from doing it, so I don’t have to try to correct the results? Our tempers are controllable with the right source of strength.

When the stress, pressure and aggravation of the day build up, too many of us become a human volcano and take it out on those around us. Unfortunately it comes naturally. Please do not view that as an excuse. You see, it comes from the flesh and if you are a Born Again believer you have the power to control the flesh. That power is called the Spirit or Holy Spirit and at salvation He comes to live within you. How do I know that? The word of God tells us so. In fact, scripture says if we do not have the Holy Spirit we are not saved.

Rom 8:9 “But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.” Now if any man does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”

With the Holy Spirit can I keep from losing my temper? The answer is yes. Our dark side, called the flesh can be controlled. That control comes when I present myself to Jesus as His servant and allow Him to mold and develop me.

I Cor 10:13 “There has no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

Does that mean I will never sin again by losing my temper? It may be the devastating things that we say and do when we’re angry, or our selfishness that continually wounds and crushes people, or a sour negativity and bitterness that poisons our life and the lives of people around us. It’s all deadly sin that keeps spewing out of our life while often hurting the people we love most. While we have no excuse for sinning we still are overcome by that flesh at times. Fortunately our God is faithful in forgiving us when we recognize our sins and confess them.

I 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.”

That daily spiritual battle we fight with our explosive dark side is not new. That same flesh created the first sin and all have that same flesh (Rom 3:23). Jesus is the only one to walk this earth without sin (I Cor 5:21). And fortunately He is the very One that will make intercession for us for our sin. Our need is to recognize it and ask for forgiveness’. The request can only go through one person.

I Tim 2:5 “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;”

That is the good news for today, because the Bible now shows us how to move from despair to deliverance. We can move from that “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me…?” to a sinner cleansed by the blood of Christ.

Jesus wants to bring that victory into your life – to forgive every sinful hurtful thing you’ve ever done and give you a new beginning. He stands ready to actually move into your life and to control what you have never been able to control; to beat what has always beaten you. He’s the Rescuer, reaching for you. Now it’s up to you to reach back and accept His offer.

Rev. 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hears my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”