Fruit

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Luke 6:46

And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

The LORD is clear in His Word, “For every tree is known by his own fruit.” At the risk of being overly simplistic, if a tree has pecans on it then it is a pecan tree and if it has apples on it then it is an apple tree. Likewise, if a tree never has any kind of fruit on it but rather is filled with thorns then it is a thorn tree. 

In today’s world there seems to always be a politician, preacher, professional or pundit spewing about what is wrong with everyone else and with those who hold opposing views. Yet when you look in their tree, there does not seem to be any fruit. Rather their tree is filled with thorns and serpents. It is completely beyond understanding, to me, how we have reached a place as a country and as God fearing people where anyone who doesn’t believe like I do is the enemy. Unfortunately I fear that we are rapidly approaching a place where it is conceivable that one side or the other of political philosophies and all opposing religious views could be outlawed and transgressors imprisoned and openly persecuted.

There will be some who indignantly declare that is absurd and could never happen in America. Please allow me to remind you of what a great man named Abraham Lincoln once said, ”America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” How did our country reach a place where we were killing each other in the Civil War? Make no mistake, our country is in the middle of a cultural civil war today and if we don’t begin to bear fruit of brotherly love we could most assuredly find ourselves once again at war with each other. Is that what we want our children to experience?

“And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” What are the things which Jesus said that we are not doing? He said to love the Lord thy God with all thy being and He said to love thy neighbor as thy self. Jesus has already set the example. He loved and died for all. He did not die just for members of His church, His political party or those who had the same color skin as He. The fruit He bore was love and forgiveness even when wrongly persecuted and executed at the hands of sinful man. 

What kind of fruit are we bearing America? What kind of fruit are we bearing church? What kind of fruit are we bearing Christian? Lord God in heaven above, please have mercy upon us and wake us to the hate, disrespect and abuse we are inflicting upon one another and upon your great Name.

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Secret Faults

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Psalm 19:12

Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.

In this passage of scripture the Psalmist is concerned about the things in his life that are displeasing to the Lord that he is unaware of and doesn’t understand.

Somehow as we grow up we see less and less in our life as being wrong and more and more as being someone else’s wrong and their problem. When a child is two or three years old it doesn’t understand that playing with a venomous snake is seriously dangerous. However when that same child is twenty or thirty years old it understands the dangers associated with venomous snakes. The psalmist was concerned that there was error and secret faults in his life that he could not see.

What the Psalmist did understand was that since God was big enough to create and control all we can see such as the day and the night, He was also big enough to control all that we can’t see. I can see day and night where I am but I can not see day and night on the other side of the world and yet it is perfectly under control and in subjection to the Creator just as my side of the world is.

To apply that to me personally then means that since my Creator is big enough to control and bring into subjection what I do see and understand about myself means that He is also big enough to control and bring into subjection what I don’t understand about myself.

Simply said, Jesus Christ shed His blood, died on Calvary’s Cross, descended into death and hell and was raised from the dead by the resurrection power of the Father. That is sufficient to save me from an eternity in hell and that is sufficient to save me from whatever wrong and error that is in my life that I don’t understand yet.

Matthew 7:11, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” The LORD Jesus Christ is an infinitely better parent than we good ever possibly be. We can trust Him!

Last Shall Be First

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Mark 10:31

But many that are first shall be last; and the last first.

To be last, as it is used in this particular passage, means to be last in time, place or space. It also means to be last in rank or last in grade of worth. It is so easy as people of Christ to feel last in rank or worth while living in this world’s carnal system. However God’s word promises that the last shall be first. 

Just prior to this remark by Jesus, Peter had been saying to the Jesus how that the disciples had left everything to follow Him. That is what prompted Jesus to say, “And the last shall be first.” Jesus then begins to talk about all that He was going to go through and how He would eventually be delivered up, tried and convicted and then crucified. After all of that then would the last be made first.

In this world of instant gratification that we live in we want what we want and we want it now. Push a button and download it now. Certainly there is a peace and satisfaction that comes right now while I’m following Jesus but before the last are made first we must follow Jesus all the way to the cross and into a tomb of death, peacefully praising and worshiping the LORD until the Father’s resurrection power comes and makes the last first.

What a glorious day when we are resurrected by the Father’s glory just as Jesus was and we then spend eternity in the presence of God Almighty glorified by and with His eternal resurrection glory. As it says in Romand 8:18, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

Blessed Jesus please teach me to patiently wait upon thee, in whatever tomb I find myself in, until the Father’s resurrection power comes upon me.

All My Days

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Psalm 27:4

One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.

Many Biblical Scholars believe this Psalm was written during the time that David was fleeing from Saul. Saul had an issue with David because David had been chosen by God and anointed to be the next king over Israel. Saul was intent on causing David to fail and ultimately Saul wanted to kill David to prevent him from assuming the throne in Saul’s place when in reality Saul would have remained on the throne longer and been a better leader had he embraced the anointing on David’s life. Saul could have utilized the talents and abilities that God had given to David and Saul and the nation both would have been better off. Instead the envy and murder in Saul’s heart controlled Saul’s choices and eventually Saul and his son lost their lives.

As David was fleeing from Saul his prayer to the LORD was that there was only one thing he desired and that was to dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of his life. David did not want Saul’s throne and as he wearied of the constant attacks and of fleeing for his life the desire of his heart manifested itself in this Psalm. David was clear in his intentions, “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after”. David was like I want to dwell in the house of the LORD and that’s what I am seeking, not Saul’s throne.

Although David made mistakes in life and in his role as king over Israel, the desire of his heart always came up and in the good times and in the not so good times, his moral compass always brought him back to where he was supposed to be which was in the house of the LORD and enquiring in His Temple.

May God have mercy on us in these days.

Secret Faults

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Psalm 19:12-13

Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.

In this passage of scripture the Psalmist is concerned about the things in his life that are displeasing to the Lord that he is unaware of and doesn’t understand.

Somehow as we grow up we see less and less in our life as being wrong and more and more as being someone else’s wrong and their problem. When a child is two or three years old it doesn’t understand that playing with a venomous snake is seriously dangerous. However when that same child is twenty or thirty years old it understands the dangers associated with venomous snakes. The psalmist was concerned that there was error and secret faults in his life that he could not see.

What the Psalmist did understand was that since God was big enough to create and control all we can see such as the day and the night, He was also big enough to control all that we can’t see. I can see day and night where I am but I can not see day and night on the other side of the world and yet it is perfectly under control and in subjection to the Creator just as my side of the world is.

To apply that to me personally then means that since my Creator is big enough to control and bring into subjection what I do see and understand about myself means that He is also big enough to control and bring into subjection what I don’t understand about myself.

Simply said, Jesus Christ shed His blood, died on Calvary’s Cross, descended into death and hell and was raised from the dead by the resurrection power of the Father. That is sufficient to save me from an eternity in hell and that is sufficient to save me from whatever wrong and error that is in my life that I don’t understand yet.

Matthew 7:11, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” The LORD Jesus Christ is an infinitely better parent than we good ever possibly be. We can trust Him!

Let Not Sin Reign

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Romans 6:12

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.

To reign, as used in the passage, means to be king and to exercise kingly power. Christ, through His Word, tells us, “Let not sin reign in your mortal body.” So I have a choice in this matter. I do not have to allow sin to be my king and exercise kingly power over me. However, as life soon teaches you, just because we know what the answer is in a situation and just because all we have to do is make a simple choice to do what is right, doesn’t mean that it is always an easy thing to do. Just because something is simple doesn’t mean it is necessarily easy. What then is the key to making this simple choice to not let sin reign in our mortal body?

The answer is in the preceding verse, Romans 6:11, “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” All we have to do to prevent sin from being the king of our life and exercising kingly power over us is to “reckon” ourselves to be dead unto sin.

To reckon is to count, compute and calculate or to take into account and to make an account of. Romans 3:28, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” We conclude or we reckon. Romans 4:3, “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. It was counted or it was reckoned.

The simple thing to do to prevent sin from reigning in my mortal body, that isn’t always easy, is choose to believe that it has no power. Sin has no power over me because Jesus Christ was raised from the dead! Death, hell and the grave could not and did not reign over Jesus and greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world so sin has no power over me. Not someone else’s sin and not my sin.

Thank you Father! Jesus has been raised from the dead and sin has no power over me.

Their Synagogue

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Matthew 13:54

And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?

What an indictment! Jesus Christ, the living Word of God in flesh, comes into His own country where He and His family are known and yet He must teach them in their synagogue? Moreover His teaching offended them as it says in verse 57, “And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.”

This verse can certainly be applied to the church world today. We talk about this is God’s House and this is the body of Christ but does Jesus ever think, well they are having church today so I’m going down to their church and visit them? Jesus have mercy on us! Is Jesus going to our church or do we go to His church? Is man in control of the church keeping it within strict guidelines and making sure everything is done exactly right according to their denomination’s beliefs or does Jesus have the freedom to come in and mess up the whole program doing something radically different?

It seems to me that we can also apply this on a more personal level as the Bible also teaches that this physical body we live in is to be the temple of God. Does it offend us when Jesus comes in and does a new thing in our body. Does it offend me that I’ve gotten older now and I don’t have the strength, stamina and looks of youth anymore? Does it offend me when Jesus teaches me that I shouldn’t take my body to a particular place or allow it to participate in a certain activity?

Is my church and my body the Temple of God or does Jesus go into their synagogue when His presence visits me?

Joshua

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Joshua 1:5-6

There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.

The LORD had appeared to Joshua and told Joshua, “Moses my servant is dead” and then immediately begins to prophesy to Joshua that Joshua will be successful and that he, Joshua, would divide the Promised Land to Israel. The LORD also tells Joshua to be strong and of a good courage which means that Joshua is going to face opposition and some battles in doing what he has been told to do.

Moses was an awesome man of God and according to Exodus 12 he lead “about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children” out of Egypt in the Great Exodus. Yet Moses was a human being and certainly not without issues as a man. Moses had killed an Egyptian and hid him in the sand. He had married outside his own people and many scholars assert that Moses’ wife was a black woman and so those things would have caused an uproar in the society of that day. Although marrying who you wish is completely acceptable in today’s world, it would have been a huge issue in the setting of these scriptures.

Moses also had an anger issue as he demonstrated when he came down from receiving the commandments and discovered the Israelites had made a golden calf and were partying and dancing. He immediately cast the tables of stone to the ground and break them out of anger.

Although Moses had not been allowed to enter the Promised Land and had died short of that, he was still an awesome leader and servant of God. How else would you govern that many people for 40 years wandering through a wilderness without being an awesome leader?

Even though Moses made mistakes at times, you never hear Joshua speak negatively to the Israelites about their former leader. Joshua was Moses’ servant and if anyone would have seen Moses’ shortcomings it would have been Joshua. Nevertheless out of respect for the LORD’s choice of whom to lead Israel, Joshua never scorns or ridicules Moses. Therefore Joshua is qualified to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land and divide their inheritance to them.

To successfully lead someone into their inheritance and the discovery of their purpose on earth we do not have to scorn nor tear down and destroy the image of those before us. All we must do is simply love them for whoever they are, where ever they came from and accept whatever or whoever led them to where they are. Positive reinforcement and hope for the future will lead them much farther than negative reinforcement of the past and hopelessness ever will.

Let us praise the Lord of heaven for the example He has given us in Moses and Joshua.

Jehovah-jireh

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Mark 6:41

And when he had taken the five loaves and the two fishes, he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and brake the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them; and the two fishes divided he among them all.

This is the record of when Jesus fed five thousand men, plus whatever women and children that were present, in the desert.

The multitude had followed Jesus out into the desert when He had sent the disciples there to rest after John the Baptist was beheaded by Herod. Jesus had sent the disciples to rest, in Jesus’ words, and yet when they arrived at the appointed place there was a multitude there waiting on them.  When Jesus saw the multitude He was moved with compassion for them because Jesus saw them as sheep without a shepherd.

Things had changed. John had preached, led and protected the multitude up to that point and now John has been executed for standing against Herod’s immoral desire for his brother’s wife. Thus Jesus saw them as sheep without a shepherd and had compassion on them.

After spending a long time teaching the multitude many things Jesus tells His disciples to feed the multitude. The disciples respond by telling Jesus He will have to send everyone away to get their own food because they don’t have any. Jesus then has the disciples gather what food they do have which came to five loaves and two fishes. Jesus takes the paltry supplies and looks to heaven, He blesses and then brakes the five loaves and two fishes before giving them to the disciples to serve to the multitude. After feeding the multitude there were twelve baskets of food left over.

In this era of post-modernism and it could even be argued, post-christianity, the goal seems to always be more, bigger and better. Yet that is completely contrary to the way Jesus did it. Jesus feed five thousand plus people with five loaves and two fishes. He was able to do that because number one He looked to heaven. He wasn’t looking to the government, the corporate world, the rich, the educational system, the justice system or even the church to take care of those in the desert place. Rather He looked to “Our Father which art heaven”. He then divided what He had among those around Him that day. Miraculously everyone was fed and there was way more left over than Jesus even started with.

The way to succeed in whatever you are doing is to love the LORD with all your being by looking to heaven and then loving your neighbor as your self. You will always end up with more than you begin with when you implement and practice this on simple principle of the Kingdom of Heaven.

He is Jehovah-jireh!

No Offense

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Psalm 119:165

Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.

Do I love the law of God? What is the law of God? Is it even possible to remember all of the laws of God?

When Jesus walked this earth He was questioned one day by a certain lawyer as to what was the greatest thing he could do in order to be pleasing to the LORD. Jesus answered that we are to love the LORD with all our being and then love our neighbor as ourselves. In Matthew 22:40 Jesus says, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets”.

It may be said then, that if I can’t find peace in a situation and I am offended, it is because I have not yet embraced Christ’s love with all my being and I have not yet choose to love my neighbor as myself. I’m not talking about loving the wrong that someone is doing but rather choosing to love the person.

I am eternally grateful that Jesus Christ choose to love me and die for me on Calvary’s Cross even though I had plenty of wrong going on in my life. He gave His life for me because I had wrong, error and darkness in my life and needed Him and not because I was a good person who deserved it. Yet I am so quick to condemn someone and “write them off” when they commit wrong against me. Oh how unlike Christ we are!

The thing is that when someone does me wrong it offends me and I feel justified in those feelings because they are the one that is wrong. It’s difficult to see where I am lacking when I feel so justified because they did such a horrible thing to me. Yes it was horrible but it certainly doesn’t make sense to descend into their wrong when I could live above it in the love of God. Do you prefer living in offense or in love?

It doesn’t make their wrong right and doesn’t mean I must continue to submit to the wrong of someone else. It just means I live above that wrong in a place of no offense as Jesus did on the cross when He said, Father forgive them for they know not what they do.

Dear Jesus please teach me to love as you do.