Thoughts On Drowning

We Are Drowning

There are few who read this blog. I am confident, though, that the right person will read it when the time is right. “Every good and perfect thing is a gift from God.”

I really appreciate the Lord’s work in my life. For years I was a crude man; a poor example of what a Christian looks like. In fact, my life would be the picture of a life without Christ. For years I could not get all the pain sorted away from the joy. Even today sorrow will sometimes take center stage in the play called “My Life.”

The Lord gives me reason to walk every morning or at least as many mornings as I am able or the weather permits. He has provided technologies…you know those inventions of men…that provide me with things to listen to as I walk. The walks are really long meditative experiences and words of preachers fill my head. Their words are the words of the Word.

This morning I was listening to Peter Hiett preach to his church, Lookout Mountain Community Church. The sermon is entitled “Lost Sheep and Church Discipline.” That congregation had suffered the loss of one of Christ’s sheep to suicide. That body of believers were in shock at the loss and Mr. Hiett preached to address their collective sorrow. Mr. Hiett could not have possibly known that a sermon he prepared and preached in October 2004 would impact a man such as me. Over a decade later and separated by over a thousand miles that sermon would cause a need to preach it again, again and over again.

Mr. Hiett provided an illustration in his sermon that morning. He told of how he was at a gathering in the backyard of friends. They had a pool. Mr. Hiett’s daughter was three years old as I recall the story. She was admonished to stay away from the pool.

His daughter apparently has a mind of her own and a propensity to push boundaries. Mr. Hiett looked out of the corner of his eyes and noticed something at the bottom of the pool. That something was someone. It was his daughter. She was flailing her arms trying to find a way to escape the pool.

Mr. Hiett tells us that he dove into the pool and rescued his daughter. As they came to the surface she gasped a breath of life and he did too. She was saved by her father and they were saved by their Father.

That story should be illustration enough, but there is more. In 1995 my daughter was three. We lived at an apartment and there was a pool in our backyard. The pool was encased by a fence. The fence made the pool even more enticing than the pool itself. My little girl hungered to be at the water’s edge.

She could not open the gate and neither could she scale the fence. Like Mr. Hiett’s daughter mine had a mind of her own. She did not press boundaries often, but on occasion she would show her independence and do a thing she was instructed not to do.

On a special day my daughter begged and cajoled me to take her to the pool. It is hot and humid where I live. In August it is particularly difficult to be outside for long periods of time. I didn’t want to go to the pool. I didn’t want to swim. All I wanted was to read my newspaper, but I could not take any more badgering from my little girl. I relented and we went to the pool.

I took my newspaper with me and my little girl held my hand. The gate opened and together we stood at the edge of the pool. I told her she could play at the shallow end and that I would sit near her. Needless to say I sat in a pool chair that was not near the place where my daughter wanted to play.

My little girl found a way to quietly and with great stealth move away from me and toward the deeper parts of that pool. I would look up from my newspaper occasionally and watch over her. I ushered her back to the area of the pool where I sat. I told her that our time at the pool would end if she chose to sneak over to the deep parts again.

That admonishment didn’t matter to her. She was laying on her stomach and chasing waves she was making with her hand. The waves would lead her to reach out and she would scoot closer and closer and eventually over the edge.

God intervened. He caused me to look over the top of my paper just as my little girl fell into the deep end of the pool. I jumped up from the chair and it what seems like a long, long time I raced to where she fell in. I reached my hand into the water and grabbed her ankle as she sank deeper into the pool.

The Lord helped me grab her ankle. He gave me extraordinary strength to pull her from the clutches of the pool.

She was upside down hanging from my grasp. I righted her and pulled her close. Her face was that of an astonished child. Her eyes were huge. She coughed a little water from her throat and sputtered, “I fell into the water.”

The fear in me was overwhelming. The love in me was greater still. I could only hold her and cry. I could only look to heaven and give thanks. Forgive me for not being attentive Lord.

Mr. Hiett continues his illustration. There is a man in the congregation whose name is Ron. Ron was at another spring time party. A young girl came to him and tugged on his pant leg. He looked down at her and asked what she wanted.

“Hey mister. Will you hold me?” she said.

Ron told the little girl that he would later. Moments passed and that little girl was back tugging on his pant leg.

“Hey mister. Will you hold me?” she asked him.

He told the little girl he would in a little while. He watched her as she walked away.

Moments later there was a commotion at the pool. That little girl had fallen in. There was no one to jump in after her. She died at the bottom of that pool that day.

Ron was upset and could not sleep that night. He got out of his bed and determined to find out who that little girl was. Who were her parents? Where were they? Maybe he could say something to console them.

Ron walked the neighborhood and he learned where that little girl lived. He learned her story.

The little girl’s mother was single. She had recently come to know a man. That man would be with her, but only if there were no children attached.

The little girl’s mother walked from neighbor to neighbor. She walked to other family members. The little girl’s Mom asked if any of those would take her daughter and raise her. None would.

Ron learned that the little girl was only a few days ago in another backyard where there was a pool. The little girl fell in. She was rescued and she was hugged by her rescuer. She was cared for by that family. She was loved.

The stories are true. The outcomes are true. Two little girls saved and one lost after having been saved.

Is there a moral to this story? The pools are sin and each of us will drown if we fall in. We will die unless our Father steps in to rescue us. We are all little children.

Thoughts On… “Golden Toilets”

It is my habit to walk every morning. I walk in my neighborhood which is rural. From my front door through the little town of Orchard, Texas I’ll walk about three miles. The walk takes an hour or a little more. My pace is sometimes quick, but more often leisurely. I don’t really like to walk, but I do like the benefits walking gives me. I’ve lost over forty pounds because I walk daily. The walk is good. The benefits are good. But, the real reason I walk is because I listen to preachers preach.

While I walk I listen to my former pastor, David Hodges, preach the Word. His lessons in First and Second Samuel, both Chronicles, First Peter and miscellaneous sermons teach me. I listen to John MacArthur. He has thousands of sermons that can be downloaded from the Grace To You website. I’ve listened to hundreds of his sermons. A quick search reveals greater than 100 sermons in which The Revelation of Christ Jesus is featured. I’ve listened to more than half of those.

On my walk I’ve listened to sermons delivered by Ray Steadman, who is now deceased. Chuck Smith from Calvary Chapel at Costa Mesa, California and Tom Luitwieler, Pastor at Calvary Chapel at Reno/Sparks, Nevada. I’ve listened to sermons delivered by J. Vernon Magee and Jack MacArthur. I cannot recount the numbers of single sermons by numerous teachers I’ve listened to on my walks.

I do not walk alone in the mornings. My Lord walks with me. He causes me to hear His Word from many men. He leads me to experience wondrous joy and He allows me to experience woeful sorrow on these walks. For certain He reminds me in these walks and by these sermons that He is Lord of all and He will be “all in all.”

Recently I’ve been experiencing a change in major points in my theological underpinnings. The Lord has led me to hear the sermons of a steward of His Word. His name is Peter Hiett. Mr. Hiett’s testimony is both joyous and heartbreaking. Mr. Hiett is not finished giving his testimony. He is still preaching, but even he will tell that he is not preaching as the man he was, but now as the man he is.

I am not Mr. Hiett’s biographer and he certainly has not licensed me to speak for him or about him. I do find his testimony to be relevant to my own. God changed me first, then He led me to hear sermons delivered by Mr. Hiett and others to help seal the change for His Name’s sake. I will not pretend to know God’s course for me aside from a straight and narrow path. He could call me home today, tomorrow or even decades from now. One thing of which I am spiritually certain, I am changed today.

I heard a sermon given by Mr. Hiett during this morning’s walk. This was one of those leisurely paced walks. It’s a good thing, too. This was a sermon message Mr. Hiett presented to his flock in 2002. He could not possibly know this sermon would be for my benefit over a decade later.

Mr. Hiett provided an illustration. I’ll paraphrase it for the sake of brevity here.

Mr. Hiett, early in his career, served as a Youth Pastor. He found an old toilet and determined the old toilet could be put to good use. He did not say that he cleaned the old commode, but we should assume he did. That old toilet was painted gold and put on a platform. An old plumber’s plunger was discovered and it, too, was painted gold. The “golden throne and scepter” were brought to the youth and it became a symbolic reward for them. Do something well, do something scriptural, learn a lesson or just be a good kid and that child would be rewarded with time on the throne.

The “Golden Toilet” was used for a time until a child went home to his mother, Rita, and asked, “Why do those kids worship a toilet?” Rita was perturbed and sent the Youth Pastor a letter spelling out all the reasons he should not allow such celebrations in their church.

Needless to say Mr. Hiett was hurt by Rita’s accusations and he reluctantly agreed to put the “Golden Toilet” in storage. The “Golden Toilet” was put in a closet, at the back of that closet, in the darkest regions of that closet. It was covered by a tarp and left to be forgotten.

Mr. Hiett believed the matter to be over until he received another letter from another mother, Paula. Paula and Rita were in the same Women’s Bible Study. Paula reported that she was in the closet, the back of that closet, in the darkest regions of that closet and discovered under a tarp that old “Golden Toilet.” Paula complained that “Golden Toilets” should never be allowed in their church.

Mr. Hiett instructed one of his young assistants to go into that closet, the back of that closet, in the darkest regions of that closet and take the “Golden Toilet” from under the tarp. The assistant was instructed to destroy the “Golden Toilet” and place it in the dumpster with the other trash. The assistant did as he was instructed.

Mr. Hiett on the other hand remained miffed and upset that his “Golden Toilet” was the cause of such division. Rita and Paula did not have the same understanding of the “Golden Toilet” Pastor Hiett had. He grew angry and thought to leave the church for the sake of his “Golden Toilet.”

Mr. Hiett suffered a crisis of faith. He raced out of the church heading nowhere in particular. He was running from nothing in particular but from everything in general. His flock was challenging his “Golden Toilet” and he was reluctant to give it up. He became resentful because others did not see the “Golden Toilet” as valuable as he perceived it to be.

I may have missed a broader meaning to Mr. Hiett’s “Golden Toilet” testimony or I may have narrowed it too much. I see the “Golden Toilet” as my theology. What do I hold to be so valuable that I will grow resentments toward others because they do not agree or do not see my “Golden Toilet?”

There was much more to Mr. Hiett’s sermon, but it was the “Golden Toilet” illustration that impacted me most. I suppose I have my own “Golden Toilet.” I am confident the preachers I’ve mentioned above have theirs, too.

My theology has changed and for the better. Mercy will not be shown to those who are not merciful (James 2:13). It is not possible to be merciful when resentments are harbored. It is not possible to be merciful when hatred is stronger than love. It is not possible to be merciful when you are looking down your nose at another.

Mercy is the answer. After all it was His mercy bestowed on us all when Christ was obedient to the point of death on the Cross. It was His mercy given to us all when He looked out to heaven and said, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” It was His mercy shown to us when a blade was pushed into His side and His blood covered the sins of the world.

Mr. Hiett finished his illustration by telling of his dash into darkness at breakneck speed. He went to the other side of Diablo Mountain and pondered his future. Mr. Hiett met Jesus there.

I’ve rushed headlong into the darkness too many times to count. I’ve met Jesus there. Many times I didn’t know it, but looking back Jesus always met me there.

My theologies have changed. The “Golden Toilet” has been destroyed and placed in a dumpster. From this day forward I pray the Lord will lead me to build no more “Golden Toilets.” I pray He will help me recognize the “Golden Toilets” of others and to give them latitude by way of mercy to display their “Golden Toilet” in ways that bring glory to God.

You can hear Mr. Hiett’s sermon. It was given on July 7, 2002. There is a great irony in this sermon. Mr. Hiett did not know when he gave this sermon that a “Golden Toilet” would eventually lead to a change in his theology and where he preached it. Read Mr. Hiett’s testimony here.

We can make our theology an idol. We can grow so proud of our opinions and of our Biblical interpretations that we lose sight of greater Truth for the sake of our “Golden Toilet.” Pray with me that our beliefs do not keep us from knowing the Truth. Pray that our minds remain open to hear Him even when we think we hold the last word on this or that. No one person knows it all and it seems to me fool hearty to defend vigorously what might not be scriptural or true.

Thoughts On… Denying Christ

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Mat 10:32, 33

32 `Every one, therefore, who shall confess in me before men, I also will confess in him before my Father who is in the heavens; 33 and whoever shall deny me before men, I also will deny him before my Father who is in the heavens.

This statement from Christ Jesus has some remarkably serious consequences. Taking the verse by itself it reads as if any person while under duress could deny Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior and consequently be lost because Jesus would speak against him before the Father.

This subject comes to light today because of the witness testimonies surrounding a mass shooting in Roseburg, Oregon. Witnesses report a young man entered a community college classroom and lined the students there against a wall. He reportedly asked each if they were Christians. If the student’s answer was in the affirmative, then the murderer shot that student in the head. If the student’s answer was that he was not a Christian, then that student was wounded by a gunshot.

Imagine the courage of the first student who confessed he was indeed a Christian. Now imagine the second, third through ninth student who confessed their belief in Christ Jesus. Nine were killed that day. The only thing the nine had in common is that they are Christian.

What about the students who were wounded? Were any of them Christian, but too fearful of the assailant’s intent to murder those who would confess Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior. We don’t know and more importantly I don’t think we need to know.

Let’s make that assumption that there was at least one of the wounded who confessed a faith in Him, but on this fateful day chose to deny Christ Jesus in order that his life might be spared.

Do we take the scripture above literally and know concretely that Jesus will deny that student before the Lord Who is in the heavens? Did that denying student’s eternal salvation get scrubbed away because he was humanly afraid? Will that hypothetical student now be punished by our Eternal Father because that student denied Christ that day?

In Matthew 10:1-15 we read that Jesus prepares His Disciples to go out. He is sending His Disciples on an evangelical mission to proclaim the Gospel as He taught them. He gives them instructions to preach the Gospel. He gives them the power to heal and the power to preach. Jesus tells them to take nothing with them that will sustain them; not even spare sandals. Jesus tells them to seek out people who are worthy and who are loving. The Disciples are instructed to stay with those good people.

Jesus then says something remarkable about the houses they come to. “Bless the family in that house with peace if that household receives you and is hospitable. If it is not then let your peace be restored to you.” Jesus was not denying the household peace and blessing, but He was telling His Disciples that staying there would be contentious. Restoration of God’s people to the Father is the overarching precept of Christ’s Gospel. Discontent and contentiousness are not.

Jesus then says to His Disciples that the unwilling household has another problem that they will have to face. God’s judgment will be put on those who reject the Word. He defines the pain of the Father’s judgment to be greater than the suffering experienced by the inhabitants of Sodom when it was destroyed by God.

In verses 16 through 29 Jesus warns His Disciples that there will be many in the towns to which they are going who will strive to harm them. He tells them to be wise and discerning. Jesus tells them that the people will complain about them and turn them over to the authorities. The Disciples should expect to be scourged at the order of the Sanhedrin. Because of this the Disciples will be brought before governors and rulers. They are to use this opportunity to advance the Gospel.

Jesus cautions the Disciples that they will be hated for the Name of Jesus. Brothers will testify against brothers. Families will be broken up because of the message they are bringing to the people. He tells them not to worry about what to say. The Holy Spirit will give the words.

He then tells them that when the persecution starts in earnest leave that city. The Gospel will not make it to every town because of the need to flee, but Christ Jesus will eventually get the Word to them all.

Jesus encourages them to go out for they are His. They are to be like their teacher. They are to be like their Lord. Jesus cautions them that if a household is the servant of the devil then that household will be like the devil. Do not fear these kinds of people. Teach the Truth. Jesus says the Light will overwhelm and destroy the darkness. Teach the Light. Shout the Truth from the rooftops.

Be encouraged to teach the Truth. Do not fear the man who can kill you. Do fear the Power than can kill your body and your soul. We see from these scriptures that God has great care for even the birds of the air. How much more does He care for us. He knows us so intimately that He literally knows the number of hairs on our heads. He knows our innermost thoughts. He knows every deed done and every deed we will do.

Now to the question at hand; Will Jesus deny the hypothetical Christian student who denied Him on that day of massacre? The simple answer is He will.  The better answer is that He will not.

It is my belief the student’s denial of Christ on that day will be the subject of Christ’s denial of Him to the Father on that day…for that incident alone.  That hypothetical student will not be denied his place in Christ’s Kingdom.

Keep this in mind as you answer these questions. Have you ever slandered a brother or sister in Christ? Have you deliberately sought to cause any person harm by your thoughts or words? Have you looked at a woman (not your wife) and wanted to have sexual relations with her? Have you wished your husband was like that other woman’s husband? Have you condemned a person because of their sexual proclivity? Have you called another person a heretic or blasphemer because that person holds an opinion of God contrary to your own? Have you wished someone dead? Do you call those who do not believe in Christ “fools?”

God knows your heart. We can deny Him in any of a myriad of ways. When we do it will be only just that He denies us to the Father who is in heaven.

Let’s be honest with ourselves at least. I’ll be honest with you. In my lifetime I have denied Him. I have denied Him in ways and in times that cause me great sorrow: Godly sorrow. Even after knowing Him and wanting to be like Him I have still done things that for all intents and purposes deny Him.

Let’s also say we have confessed our faith in Christ. Being honest with you I have reached to heaven as a reprobate and begged for forgiveness. I have been defeated to the point of wanting death. I’ve cried alligator tears confessing to Him my sins not once, but on multiple occasions. Not only for a sin committed once, but for a sin I’ve committed multiple times. I’ve gone to Him with a repenting contrite heart. I’ve been so serious in my intent to live for Him and Him only. Still being honest I’ve broken my promises. My contrite heart healed or scarred over the pain. I have gone to the Lord hating myself and He always restores me. I’ve denied Him and He will deny me before the Father, but the sin of my denial has been forgiven.

Let’s examine the story of two or three Biblical men. Perhaps in them we can find an answer to the question will Jesus deny the person who denies Him before our Father Who is in heaven?

Paul is an Apostle chosen out of season. He says of himself that he was a wretched man. He confesses that he hated Christians. He confesses he hated those who would follow the radical Rabbi named Jesus. It is safe to say Paul denied Jesus to the point he murdered, imprisoned and persecuted those who believed Him.  How do we know these things about Paul.  He confesses them in his testimony to us.

Paul’s denial was forgiven in repentance. Jesus met Paul on the road to Damascus. Jesus taught Paul and Paul’s heart changed.

Peter is an Apostle chosen by Christ Jesus to be the foundation of the Church. On the day Jesus was betrayed Peter denied Him three times! Jesus told of it before Peter’s denial. Jesus knew Peter would deny Him.

Luke 22:31-34
31 Simon, Simon, behold, Satan asked to have you, that he might sift you as wheat: 32 but I made supplication for thee, that thy faith fail not; and do thou, when once thou hast turned again, establish thy brethren. 33 And he said unto him, Lord, with thee I am ready to go both to prison and to death. 34 And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, until thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.

We read later that Peter was there when Jesus was confronted by the temple guard in Gethsemane. Peter slashed out at one of them and cut off an ear. Jesus commanded Peter to put away his weapon. He healed the guard’s ear. Judas approached and kissed Jesus identifying Him as the One the guards were seeking to arrest.

Peter and the other Disciples ran leaving Christ alone in the hands of those who wished Him ill. Did Peter and the others deny Him there in Gethsemane?

Luke 22:54-62
54 And they seized him, and led him away, and brought him into the high priest’s house. But Peter followed afar off. 55 And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the court, and had sat down together, Peter sat in the midst of them. 56 And a certain maid seeing him as he sat in the light of the fire, and looking stedfastly upon him, said, This man also was with him. 57 But he denied, saying, Woman, I know him not. 58 And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou also art one of them. But Peter said, Man, I am not. 59 And after the space of about one hour another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this man also was with him; for he is a Galilaean. 60 But Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew.

61 And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how that he said unto him, Before the cock crow this day thou shalt deny me thrice. 62 And he went out, and wept bitterly.

We can be sure Peter denied Christ Jesus three times. We can also be sure Peter was stricken in his heart and in his spirit when Jesus “turned and looked upon” him.

There are many scriptures that proverbially “hit me in the gut,” but this one is particularly moving. My breath is taken away. The scene in my mind’s eye is immeasurably sad. Jesus looks upon Peter and Peter realizes just how worthless he is and just how magnificent His Lord is. Too many times I’ve been in the same circumstance as Peter. I denied Him and immediately realize He is looking upon me. My heart aches in my worthlessness. My heart rejoices in that He lifts me up in His glory!

Finally think of Judas Iscariot. Here is a man called to be a Disciple by Christ Jesus. Judas learns the same lessons from Him as the others have learned. Peter, James and John competed to be the greatest among the Disciples. James’s and John’s mother campaigned that her sons would sit on Christ’s left and right. Peter was quick to act and to react. We’ve seen some of that earlier.

For roughly three years Judas walks as a Disciple with Christ. Then on one fateful day Satan enters into him.

Luke 22:1-6
1 Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover. 2 And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might put him to death; for they feared the people.

3 And Satan entered into Judas who was called Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve.

4 And he went away, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might deliver him unto them. 5 And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money. 6 And he consented, and sought opportunity to deliver him unto them in the absence of the multitude.

We have no reason to believe Judas was impacted by Satan at any other time. It is at the time of this Passover that Satan enters into Judas. I ask this; How is it Satan can enter any man unless God would allow it or deem it? Consider how God allowed Satan to impact Job. Is it too much to say when Satan or his minion horde of demons attack any of us that it is God Who allows it? Even to help discipline His children?

Judas was paid to betray Christ Jesus and that is what he did in Gethsemane on that Passover night, but before that betrayal Christ Jesus shares a meal with His Disciples which includes Judas.

Matthew 26:24-28
24 The Son of Man will go as it is written about him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would be better for him if he had never been born.” 25 Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” Jesus replied, “You have said it yourself.”

26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after giving thanks he broke it, gave it to his disciples, and said, “Take, eat, this is my body.” 27 And after taking the cup and giving thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, that is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

It is clear Christ Jesus points out Judas as the man who will betray Him. There is to be great “woe” on the heart of Judas for his betrayal. Shall we put words in the mouth of our Lord and say that the great “woe” is eternal damnation? I have suffered great “woe” for my sins. As mentioned earlier I have denied Christ by my sins.

Note, too, that Jesus celebrates the Last Supper with His Disciples. Do we have reason to believe Judas Iscariot was not present or that he did not take the bread and wine from Christ’s hand? Is it possible in our zeal to avenge Christ’s betrayal in our own hearts that we have condemned Judas?

Christ Jesus leaves the place where He shared the Passover meal with His Disciples. He goes to the Garden in Gethsemane to pray. It is here where the temple guard find Him and it is here where Judas betrays Him with a kiss.

Matthew 26:48-50
48 (Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I kiss is the man. Arrest him!”)

49 Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi,” and kissed him. 50 Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you are here to do.” Then they came and took hold of Jesus and arrested him.

“Friend, do what you are here to do!” “FRIEND!” Yes, “Friend.” There is no doubt Christ Jesus knew Judas would betray Him with a kiss. And He still calls Judas, “Friend.”

What I see here is God’s overwhelming mercy being poured over Judas. Will you see it too? We know of scriptures that teach us that God knew us before He created the world. We have scriptures teaching us that God knows our hearts thoroughly and absolutely. We know that God destines all things for His glory. Even this betrayal was determined by God for His glory. His mercy is written all over this scene.

Jesus is betrayed so that He will be falsely accused, prosecuted and condemned. His is betrayed so that He will be sentenced to the Cross. He is betrayed so that He will be savagely beaten, mocked and murdered. He is betrayed so that He will be placed in a grave. He is betrayed so that He will be resurrected from that grave. He is betrayed so that His blood will be shed for the sins of the world. He is betrayed so that His mercy will be upon all.

Mat 27:3 – 5
3 Now when Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus had been condemned, he regretted what he had done and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders, 4 saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood!” But they said, “What is that to us? You take care of it yourself!” 5 So Judas threw the silver coins into the temple and left. Then he went out and hanged himself.

Can we say Judas exercised his free will to betray Jesus? Will we say he was chosen by God for this task, that his whole life boils down to one kiss of betrayal?

Judas repented of his sin. He repented to others and he repented before the Lord. Nothing escapes His attention. “Woe” of such magnitude fell upon Judas that he could not bear to live under the shadow of what he had done. Did he exercise his free will to hang himself? Did God choose him to hang himself?

No matter. God’s mercy is infinite even on those who betray Him.

Paul called himself “chief” among sinners, yet God saved him. He denied Christ. Peter denied Christ three times that night Christ was arrested. Judas denied Christ and betrayed Him with a kiss. Can any of us say we are better or worse than these three?

If Paul is chief among sinners I am not far behind. Peter denied knowing Jesus only three times. I have denied Him by my sinful behavior far more than that. Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss. How many times have I ignored God’s Word and paid mere lip-service to Him? Too many times to count.

Agree with my assessment or disagree. One thing we can all be certain of is His mercy. His mercy is in His shed blood. His life was given for the sins of the whole world. May we all remember Him Who gave His life for us all.

 

 

Thoughts On Righteous Paths

Proverbs 10:29
The way of the LORD is a stronghold to the blameless, but destruction to evildoers.

A stronghold is a refuge. It is a place that cannot be easily attacked. It is a place where strength and power are stored or regained.

The blameless are those striving to walk a righteous path. A righteous walk with God is too often riddled with obstacles and forks. The righteous man discerns those places in his walk with the LORD and avoids them.

Proverbs 10:17
Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life, but he who rejects reproof leads others astray.

It is the practice of believing men to seek heavenly wisdom and to seek the LORD’s counsel in every aspect of their lives. Seafarers understand the currents of the oceans. They trust those currents to be consistent and reliable. A slight course deviation will take their ship far off course.

Think of the numbers of men who worked for years plotting the course of rockets and manned spacecraft that eventually led them to plot the course for a landing on the moon. One misstep, however, led to Apollo 13 and another misstep led to the Challenger. We cannot rely on our own devices. When we do there is almost certainly a bad end.

There are hundreds if not thousands of denominational theologies presenting themselves as the “true way.” Millions of people have followed charlatans and false prophets seeking a special kind of enlightenment. Millions follow deceivers because of personal agendas or political schemes.

Too, too many good minded people have taken paths that were not of God. Their paths are contrary to His will. Their efforts under their own power have been rendered useless. Many have been destroyed because they chose to ignore the instruction the LORD gave them.

There are many questions we should ask of ourselves. Are we seeking our personal agendas or is He the LORD of our lives? Are we following the instructions given to us by the LORD or is satisfying our personal goals our idol?

Thoughts On Psalms: A Reason To Be Thankful

Psalm 2:7-12
I will proclaim the decree of the Lord: He said to me, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.

Ask of me and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.

Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment.

Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Let’s be thankful. The words of this Psalm are spoken about Jesus. These verses come regarding our Savior. These verses declare the intent of our Father to make Him, the Christ. He will be ruler over “the ends of the earth.” Jesus is the Son of God from all eternity past and forever more. Jesus has universal dominion over our lives.

Let’s be thankful. We have nothing to fear in this world and everything to hope for in eternity. Jesus will rule with a righteous purpose. His authority will be an “iron scepter.” Those who trample on others and those who think themselves higher than God will be judged, justly convicted and sentenced.

Let’s be thankful this is not our fate.

Let’s be thankful. We have the blessing of His Holy Word. His Word is clear; “love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your mind, all your body and all your soul.”

Let’s be thankful. Because we believe and follow The Way we will not taste His wrath.

Be blessed today. Bless God with thankfulness.

Thoughts On Psalms: He Sees All…

Psalm 2:4-6
He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure: “Yet I have set My king on My holy hill of Zion.”

We need to gain perspective on who we are. Better yet we would be wise to gain perspective on Who God is!

Jesus sits on the Throne at the right hand of the Father. He looks down upon us and watches everything we do. Never are His eyes off us. He sees it all, even those “secret” things.

He is especially moved at our insolence. We stand with clenched fists thinking we have some kind of control. We march against the issue of the day. We band together to change the world. All without God; without Him at the helm. And, He mocks us.

Let’s stop thinking we have a measure of control. Let’s start acting as Jesus is our Lord. We know He has saved us. We should also know He rules us. Let’s behave accordingly.

One day the Lord will speak from His throne against all His enemies. When He does it will be with such power and force that our puny voices and petty problems will no longer matter. When He decides to speak and to close the book His decision will be final.

There is good news in this. There is still time to reach out to folks you know and tell them about the grace that saved you. There is still time to speak to a friend about angry words spoken in haste. There is still time to revere the Lord.

Be a blessing today.

Thoughts On Psalms: Vanity

Psalm 2:1-3
Why to the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing?

The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us break their bonds in pieces and cast away their cords from us.”

Nations grow further and further apart from the ways of God. The people making up nations lean to their own understanding. The chasm between God and lawlessness grows wider with each passing day.

Governments make decisions that are frankly anti-God! In our own country we codify rights to destroy life and even worse our leaders pass legislation to attempt to stifle our faith, if that is possible. Too few of us shout down the injustice of it.

Rulers of nations enter into alliances every day. Treaties and agreements are arranged in secret away from public scrutiny. They are not secrets kept from God. Nations, Gentile and Jew, plot to separate themselves from “the Lord and His Anointed.”

Today is a good day to pray to our Father that He will change the minds of those He has chosen to lead us. Today is a good day to pray to our Father that He will bestow on them “heavenly wisdom.”

Be a blessing to our Father today.

Thoughts On Psalms: Fruitless

Psalm 1:4-6
The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in th the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

The ungodly are not planted by the waters. They do not have the benefit of Living Water. They will dry up and be like a fine dust easily scattered by the wind. They are not strong. They do not bear fruit. They are not spiritually prosperous. The ungodly person is not reliable.

We will all be judged. The ungodly will not have a Defender. They will be unable to “stand.” They will not have an argument to bolster their case. They won’t have the proverbial leg to stand on.

Jesus knows the righteous things the Godly do and He approves them. It is a critical point to make here; a person is not determined innocent or guilty by the way he lives his life. His judgment is based on whether he believes the Gospel of Christ or not. The ungodly one refuses to acknowledge God. The ungodly man is unable to believe.

We know someone who is ungodly. Speak to them today about spiritual things. It is Christ’s command “to go and make disciples.”

Be blessed today.

Thoughts On Psalms: A Blessed Man

Listen

Psalm 1:3
He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its
season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.

The blessed man; the believer who buries himself in God’s Word and meditates on it will be a strong and fruitful man. A tree being fed by Living Water. A tree able to stand against the
most devastating storm the world can deliver.

The blessed man will have a never ending flow of water; Living Water. He will always be refreshed by the Word.

The blessed man will show the fruits of the many graces of the Holy Spirit; peace, joy,
happiness, patience and self-control among them! The blessed man’s words and deeds will
be a reflection of the Light alive within him.

The blessed man will always know the right thing to do in any situation. He will have the right
words to express at all times. He will do these confidently. The “…leaf will not wither….” “He will
be evergreen” (Dr. D.L. Moody).

The blessed man will prosper in everything he does. This is a man who knows where his treasures are. This is a man who understands he can do nothing by his own sufficiency. This is a man calling on the Holy Spirit to come along side.

The blessed man knows Who his Lord is.

Be blessed today.

Thoughts On Psalms: Toward Christ

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Psalm 1:1,2
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.

The truly blessed believer is the one who successfully avoids the “counsel of the ungodly.”

We lose our way in the Lord when we listen to the call of the world and ignore the call of God. We cannot avoid the world after all we live in it, but we can certainly avoid any complicity in it.  Let others conspire for worldly gain. Let us be satisfied by drinking at the Fountain of the Lord.

By our behavior others will see the Light that is in us. We are to teach the truth in loving
kindness, but we should not associate ourselves with the ways of the world in order to
convince a man to believe the Gospel. Do not “stand in the path of sinner.”

Neither should we “sit in the seat of the scornful.” It is our call to evangelize. “Go and make disciples of all the nations,” Jesus said. Go where the sinner is, but don’t get comfortable there.

There is only one true state of happiness. I can only relate to you, my beloved, from my
experience and from what I learn in His Word.

Happiness, the kind of happiness that matters; that is persistent; that stands in the
storms of trial; that never leaves me is the happiness that comes from knowing God.

I was taught by a dear Pastor that once I began to really read God’s Word and meditate on
what the Holy Spirit revealed to me I would never again be satisfied. He said, “You’ll think
there are not enough hours in the day to read and to do all you want to do in His name.”

My Pastor friend also said, “God doesn’t know time as we think of it. God will make time for you.”

Day and night; in your waking hours and during your dreams while sleeping meditate on
God’s Word.

Be blessed today.  Bless others today.