Where Is The Love? (Part 2)

I just can’t seem to get away from John 13:34-35. Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." According to Jesus, showing love for each other is what reveals to the world that we follow Him. With that said, just the opposite of that (not showing love to one another) reveals to the world that we follow a god who is not genuine. If, instead of loving each other, we are divided, critical, and judgmental who wants to follow any god who produces that?

When Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you”, who was He talking to? He was talking to His disciples (now you and me). His first priority was not that they love the rest of the world, but after God, they love first each other! Jesus knew people would be drawn to Him through those He loved, by their loving each other. Here’s a great example from the Word. Acts 13:32, “And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them.” It goes on to say there was not a needy person among them. People sold their property and laid the proceeds at the Apostles feet. Folks opened their homes for meals, fellowship, and church!

Most people think that the early church was so successful because they met in homes, shared meals, and fellowshipped from house to house. There is always a push from some group or organization to go back to the methods of the early church to regain the power and influence the early church had. If we do it like they did, we will have the same power and influence they had. But that is not so. The early church folks did it that way because they loved each other and demonstrated that love unconditionally. There were no multi-purpose buildings, campuses, or church buildings. There were only small synagogues and homes to meet in. Out of supernatural, Holy Spirit, love they were motivated to open their homes, meet house to house, and share all things with one another. Can you imagine the effect this had on people? Many were drawn in by their love. Jesus said, “Love each other the way I have loved you.”

Jesus loved you and me by becoming one of us. He loved us by giving up His Kingly privileges and becoming God’s bond servant on the earth. He took upon Himself our sins, sicknesses, and pains. But He also demonstrated to His disciples His love for us for three and a half years! Then, He gave Himself completely for us. For you and me to love like Jesus is to minister the way He did! To minister the way He did is to minister in power and with influence that changes people forever. (1 Peter 4:8-11), “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Be hospitable to one another without complaint. 10 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

If we can restore that kind of love to God's church in the earth today, imagine the power and influence we would have in the lives of those yet to know Jesus. Yes, it would definitely stir up some stuff! But O the joy of the souls saved and the glory of God revealed....through you and me His church! Join with me (and thousands of others) who are praying for revival in our land. O how we need it!

Graveyard Shift? No, Not Me!

Having been in the ministry for a number of years now, and having worked in retail quite a bit, I've learned a lot about people. Most people live in cycles. You know, we do certain things at certain times of the day, week, month, year, etc. In all fairness, much of these cycles are developed around the rising and setting of the sun. Who can escape that, right?

But as I have learned to apply the Word of God in my life over the years, I've discovered that many of the cycles we naturally slip in to can be broken. Yes sir, they can! For instance, are you naturally "chipper" in the mornings? Or, are you a member of the "walking dead" till noon? Most people who are like Count Dracula (opening their eyes in a nano-twinkle early on), usually shut down just after a hearty dinner. On the other hand, the not-so-morning person seems to hit their stride about the time of the 11 O'clock (PM) news.

When I was in the military we held training exercises often. There were times I would have to work a schedule I deeply abhorred. Graveyard shift (12am - 8am)! I was so accustomed to my regular day shift routine it was hard for me to break out of it. About 5 am every morning (on graveyard) I was ready melt into a sleep-induced coma. Simply driving home from work was the greatest challenge of my graveyard days! But...I did it. I still hated it...but I did it! My point is there are times when we simply do what we have to do in order to accomplish a mission.

It's the same way with serving God. The truth is (just like the military) when you signed on with God, you signed on to be available to Him 24 X 7. We don't serve, obey, and trust Him only when it feels good to do so. We also don't do the above only when we want to, or only when it is comfortable for us. There are times we must obey God's Word, even when we don't want to! Jonah is a good example. God commanded him to go to Nineveh and preach the Gospel. God's plan would have an entire, evil city repenting at the preaching of Jonah! But Jonah didn't want to do it so he fled and ended up in the belly of a big fish! He eventually obeyed God and preached to Nineveh. There was a big revival.

There were several reasons why Jonah didn't want to obey God (see the book of Jonah in the Bible). But my point here is that even when God commanded Him, he didn't want to. It's no different for you and me. God's Word is His blueprint for our lives. Yet there are times when we don't want to abide by His Word. Sometimes it makes us uncomfortable. Sometimes we fear the rejection of our peers. Sometimes we simply want to go with our flesh instead. But ALWAYS it makes us effective for Jesus when we obey God's Word. I can imagine Jonah felt pretty good when he finally obeyed God, preached the Gospel, and the city of Nineveh repented at his preaching! I certainly would.

Always remember, we must conform our flesh to God's will as we renew our minds with His Word. It is always the flesh, because of an un-renewed mind that will many times resist the Word of God. In the military I hated the exercises. I hated graveyard shift! It made me very uncomfortable. Yes, I had no choice but to participate, but I still didn't want to do it. However, the result was that we were prepared for what a potential enemy might throw at us.

It's more comfortable for you to sleep in instead of rising early to pray. It's more comfortable for me to cradle the TV remote tenderly for hours when I could be dedicating that time to my God. It's not always comfortable for us to uphold Godly living standards in the midst of our work place. But we must! We must live by standards that are not of this world. Some people will not understand why. Some will reject us. But like the city of Nineveh, there will be those who observe us, listen to us, and embrace the message of Jesus. It starts with a firm commitment to obey Him instead of ourselves. It starts today. How about you?

Where Is The Light?

What I'm about to say will probably offend some Christians. This is not up for debate. There is too much of that on social media. This is my heart, and I know is the heart of Jesus. That's what this Blog is all about!

It's past time for we believers (Christians, followers of Christ) to awaken and come to the realization of who and what we are! Sure, we're "blessed and highly favored". And yes, we are "King's kids". Of course, we are a "royal priesthood", a "holy nation", and "God's own possession". We are very quick to let each other know these things, because that's what the Bible says about us. But there is something else the Word of God says about us. And if it's the Word...it is true. We are the "Light of the world"!

Jesus proclaimed, "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden." (Matthew 5:14) We are the light of the world. So where is the light? One of the closely related meanings of this word from the original language simply means "to make manifest". As followers of Jesus, we are on this earth to make manifest the life and love Jesus offers to all mankind. Jesus died for the whole world, no one excluded. And we the church exist to make this incredible news (and much more) known to those who have yet to receive His love and life. The church is commissioned by Jesus to be the light of the world.

Here's where it gets a little sticky. I've noticed over the years a nasty trend among Christians. As the world pushes harder and harder against the things of God, Christians tend to push back more and more. This is not of God. Here's what I mean. A company, business establishment, or corporation makes it known they support an ungodly agenda. So Christians push back. "We will boycott you." "We will hit you where it hurts...in your pocket book." They don't talk like Christians so we reject them. They don't act like Christians so we cut them off. But they're not Christians, and nowhere in God's Word does He say the world will act just like believers. And just so it's clear I'm not talking about establishments or businesses that are illegal or any who outwardly promote sin. I'm talking about every-day establishments we frequent, and then choose to punish them because their agenda (which is born of the world anyway) opposes God's Word. Where is the light?

There are many establishments and businesses I believe Jesus would see as an opportunity to make contact with young millennials. How do they feel when they (steeped in the world's agenda) hear Christians saying "boycott, boycott"? How would you feel if anyone threatened to tinker with your livelihood? I think we born again, Spirit-filled Christians ought to deliberately frequent such places in order to make contact with someone who may never enter the church.

Jesus help us to wake up! We quickly cry boycott, but at home we watch movies we know Jesus would NOT approve of. Movies that drop the "F" bomb in practically every breath. Movies that take the name of our holy God in vain and spew out vulgarity and immorality as if God Himself accepts it. It shouldn't be so! Where is the light? You are the light of the world.

Quite frankly we the church don't need to change anything until we do one thing...repent. It's time. It's time for the light (that Jesus says we are) to shine again. It's pretty dark out there and the light of the church has dimmed. We need to repent of what we have done in secret so the light of Jesus will be made manifest through us publicly to a very dark and hurting world.

I'm convinced of one thing. We live in the most opportune time ever for the church of Jesus. We have the commission. We are the light. What will you do? God sees all, and He knows all. Nothing can be hidden from Him. I ask you again, where is the light?

The Reward Of Pressing

The reward of pressing. There's an interesting title. I'm not talking about pressing your pants, or pressing your nose against a glass window! The pressing I'm talking about involves your relationship with Jesus. This kind of pressing involves "pressing forward, or onward". It also involves "pressing in" to the Spirit's presence. "Pressing in" to His presence is the one I want to talk about.

To "press" means: To move by weight or force in a certain direction or into a certain position. As far as direction goes, our only concern should be moving toward or into God's presence. And as far as position goes...closer to Him.

Pressing in doesn't happen without effort. It takes force. There are times in which we won't move deeper into His presence unless we "press in" to His presence. And some of these times must be designated (by you and me) for such purpose...pressing in. In times when you feel dry in your walk, even stagnated, press in deeper to the presence of God. The reward is that His incredible presence changes you and me! The world will cause you to acquiesce in your walk, and become apathetic toward Him. If that is you today, press in...to His presence. That's where the fire is!

But pressing in also will not happen without our pressing deeper into our relationship with Him. James (from the Bible) tells us to "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." This is a powerful promise to us. However, this promise comes with conditions. If we're truly serious about pressing in (drawing near to Him), we must be serious about the conditions James lays before us. He continues, "Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you." (James 4: 8 - 10)

All of the above are vital keys to pressing deeper into the things of God in your personal walk with Jesus. It begins with submitting ourselves to God, and resisting the devil. (James 4:7) But then we must stop sinning! That's how we cleanse OUR hands. We must also purify OUR hearts. We do that by determining we will be single-minded toward Jesus, and serving only Him! James also said that friendship with the world is hostility toward our God. (Verse 4) And for many of us, we must be miserable, and weep over the current status of our relationship with Jesus. This is pressing in. It's also called repenting! How does all of the above happen? By humbling ourselves in the presence of the Lord. The lifting up is His job...and He will!

Pressing in to the presence of God is a heart thing. When we press in, we are truly seeking God. We are dissatisfied with the status of our relationship with Jesus. So we do something about it. We press to go deeper. It's one thing to conform to a regimen of daily prayer. It is quite another to press in. Pressing in occurs when the heart cries out to God. It is when we yearn for God's presence from deep within, with a determination that we won't stop until we break through into His presence. ""As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God." (Psalm 42:1) Let me tell you my friend...this will change your life! Circumstances are not as impacting when your life is changed from being in His presence!

I've learned (especially from experience) over the years that a short time in the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit does more for me than months of counseling. Don't misunderstand me. We need Godly counseling. But what we need more is time in the life-changing presence of God's Holy Spirit. That's what we are created for. You cannot hang out with Him long without being drastically changed! And because we live in a world that pulls us in multiple different directions, and demands ALL of our time...pressing in must be made our priority.

The "reward of pressing" is that it brings us closer to Jesus. And the closer to Jesus we become, the more like Him we become.

It's Thursday Y'all!

It's Thursday morning...not Monday and not Friday.  Thursday.  Nobody ever says much about Thursday.  On a scale of 1 to 5 (5 being the most incredible) Thursday is number 4. Why doesn't Thursday get more credit?   You hear people talk a lot about Wednesday.  You know...middle of the week, hump day, and half-way to the weekend.  And almost everyone talks about how terrible Monday is.  But what about Thursday?  I love Thursday.  Thursday is actually the 5th day of the week.  Thursday is the 3rd day from end of the week. Thursday is actually further away from Monday than Saturday (Depending on which Monday you're considering).  Seems to me like it's a pretty good day!

What happens on Thursday?  Thanksgiving happens on Thursday.  That's a big one.  The Lions get beat every year on a Thursday.  (Thanksgiving).  Thursday is the eve of the biggest shopping day of the year.  Not bad.  Thursday is always the eve of Friday.  Can't take that one away.  Personally I think Thursday is a great day.  Help me out.  Help me give Thursday at least a little of the credit that it deserves.  What do you think? 

Put On Love

The Miracle Of Being Changed

It is amazing to me how things change over time. Many of the things we cannot change on the spot seem to change over time with no effort at all. For instance, when I was a child, I used to be skinny. Let me go back and emphasize 3 words...."used to be". My Granddaddy Hutto would say to me often, "If you don't eat more, you're going to dry up and blow away." Even as a child, I didn't really believe I would dry up and blow away. However I did get Granddaddy's point. My older sister Kathie called me "Bean Pole". The thing was, I didn't like to eat, because I just didn't like food. The only foods I really liked were sweets. As a matter of fact, candy was real food to me.

Something happened to me over time. As the years went by, my taste changed. Therefore my waste size changed proportionally. By the time I graduated from High School, I could eat about anything...and a whole bunch of it. You might even say I loved food. The timing was phenomenal because I married the world's greatest cook.

Once married to Connie I was introduced to a whole new world of cooking. I bolted into this new world of foods, and the scales confirmed it. I went from eating to live...to...living to eat. They say you have this little switch in you that should turn off when you're full. When I was a young child, it never turned on. When I was a teenager it would never turn off! As a young adult I would literally eat until I physically could not hold any more. Did I mention the bathroom scales confirmed it? Somewhere, along the line, I changed. It didn't happen overnight, however.

As a follower of Jesus Christ my life has changed drastically and dramatically. But it didn't all happen overnight. Some of those changes took place over time. And some of those changes are currently works in progress. I like what Paul said in Philippians 1: 6. "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect (complete, finish) it until the day of Christ Jesus." This is an incredible verse! Know why? Because it says even though I follow after Jesus I am not perfect. However, even though I am not perfect, Jesus is in the process of perfecting or completing me! He does much of it through time as I follow after Him. He works in you and me by the presence of His Spirit; and He will continue to do so until either we go to be with Him, or He comes back for us all.

I can look back at the first days of my walk with Jesus, way back in 1978. I am well aware of those changes He immediately effected the instant I surrendered my life to Him. And I can also see the ways He has changed me over time, one day at a time, through the presence of His Spirit who indwells me.

As a follower of Christ we must daily do our part in becoming like Him. We have His Word as our blueprint for life. We should faithfully study, learn and apply the Word in our daily walk with Him. We must daily avail ourselves to Him in prayer, praise, and worship. This produces the miracle of His working in you and me 24 X 7. The bottom line is that He is changing you and me as time goes on.

Don't be discouraged at the struggles you have yet to master. Keep them before God and allow Him to work in you as He works on you. Don't run from Him. Run to Him. Grace is a powerful thing. Even though we see our own short-comings, God's grace (according to the Bible) is always sufficient for our every struggle and need. It's grace that causes the power of God to manifest in our weaknesses. Jesus said to Paul, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Grace not only dealt with our sins, but the same grace, lavished on you and me, covers all our weaknesses. He accepts us, as we are, so He can change us into who and what He's created us to be.

A Real Body Builder

I've never been one to build up my body by pumping iron. More power to those who do. No pun intended. I am surely not one who trains to compete in events like the triathlon, decathlon, or marathon. Sure, I try to exercise and eat right. The more seasoned I become, the more aware of maintaining my health I've become. That "seasoned" part afore mentioned means "older". I'm just not a serious athlete as some are.
I'm pretty sure standing next to an avid body builder I would look pretty wimpy. I can live with that - because in the ream of the Spirit I'm pretty cut. Yes, you heard me right. I'm pretty cut. You see, I've been pumping spiritual iron for years. This dude has been working out in the Spirit. Years of pumping the iron of God's Word, and building myself up on His Spirit has resulted in making me a freak...a Jesus freak. Yes, I'm an avid follower of Christ. You know, a Christian. And since the real battle is in the spiritual realm, I have chosen to train and get cut spiritually! I'm not bragging. Jesus is the One who made it possible. My strength is His strength. My power is the power of His Spirit. Without Him I am nothing. But with Him...ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE!
I'm curious about you. Are you built up in Him? Are you so "cut" that you are actually "freakish" in Him? Just give it all over to Him. Then follow avidly after Him. Feed on His Word daily; continuously. Train in the Spirit through prayer, praise, and worship of Him. Be faithful to walk in Him. The Bible says you will run and not get weary. That's pretty cool.

My Secret Place

One of the greatest blessings of walking with Jesus is getting to rise early every day to spend precious time with Him in my secret place. Meeting with Him, first thing every single day is what molds my day. There is no better way to begin your day than with the One who formed you in your mother's womb! This morning was no exception for me, of course.

As I was worshiping Jesus, in my secret place, I was particularly blessed by the worship songs that were randomly being fed through my earbuds. I have no doubt Holy Spirit chose every song, and arranged their order. I couldn't see the anointed musicians and singers, but that didn't matter. I could hear them. Besides, my eyes were closed! The fact that I could not see the stage, the singers, and the musicians had no negative bearing on my worship/prayer at all. Quite frankly, it intensified my worship.
This morning there were no flashing lights in my secret place. There was no smoke or fog. There were no waving flags. I didn't even need a monitor from which to read the lyrics of the songs (with moving backgrounds). There was no show. But Holy Spirit was there. That's all that matters. He's all we need. If we can just grasp that.
In my secret place each morning there are no distractions. Some mornings there is no worship music. Just my voice, His voice, and the birds singing outside as they begin their day. The thing about the secret place is that it is secret. It is that place where it is just Holy Spirit and me. It is a place where my life is changed. I hope you have a secret place, because that is where your life is changed too!
The secret place is the place where our spirit meets Holy Spirit. Jesus said, "It is the (Holy) Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing..." (John 6:63a) In my secret place, life is imparted to me. This type of life cannot be obtained from the world, or from the flesh; only from His presence...in the secret place. The Bible says that this imparted life is the light of men. Think about it. God's light shines through you and me to those who are in darkness. And only as He imparts life does our light become brighter and impact those in darkness. This happens in the secret place.
Corporate worship is no different. The reason we worship corporately in our church gatherings is so we can meet with Him. That's it. If we meet with Him...life is imparted, and lives are changed. Even in corporate worship can we enter our secret place. We must be careful that our corporate worship is not filled with distractions. When we look to the world for our methods of attracting people to the church, we've taken the place of Holy Spirit. Remember, Jesus said, "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing..." The latest methods and trends may impress someone, but is Spirit life being imparted in worship? If so, then Holy Spirit will be the drawing card in our corporate gatherings.
And finally, for me, experience has proven that regular time in His presence is the difference between life and death; spirit and flesh. Please know that life is better! Again, life produces light that overpowers the darkness. Oh that we would spend time in the secret place.

I'm Not Howdy Doody!

I haven't ranted in awhile, so here goes. I guess I'm just a stick in the mud, or a party pooper, or something. But I don't think it's really necessary to look to social media to determine what my "sexy" percentage is. Are you kidding me? I don't think it's necessary to look to the same to give me my Hollywood name, my Biblical name, whether I am part Winston Churchill, Putin, Reagan, or Howdy Doody!

Come on folks! You're wasting productive time with all that stuff! And for some of you it makes you look....well...kind of stupid. Especially those who claim to follow after Jesus Christ. You are who you are. Your name is what your parents named you. You are who and what Jesus made you to be. You don't need social media to even make suggestions about you, even though it's supposedly "All in fun." You have a powerful destiny, determined by Jesus, not by what social media inadvertently spits out about you.

And another thing, is it really necessary for you to put "everything" on social media. Don't get me wrong, I like you, but I don't necessarily need to know that your cupcakes just came out of the oven.

And for those little games at which you post everything, from your blood type to how many fillings you have in your mouth, (and then copy and paste it), beware...you're giving up some vital information that could come back and bite you where it really, really hurts one day in the future. In the military one of the lowest levels of security, if practiced, is one of the most effective levels of security. It's called "Need to know". If someone wants some information from you, you ask yourself the question, "Do they have a need to know?" If they do not have a need to know, don't give them the information. I think that would be a good practice on social media. Before you volunteer everything, at any time, ask yourself, "Do they really have a need to know?" It's just common sense my friend. Don't be sucked in by every little game presented.

And yet another thing, whether I like, share, and copy and paste something - in know way determines my opinion, or whether I have read it or not, or whether I am a true follower of Jesus or not. Don't let anyone or any post manipulate you to go along with anything. The Bible calls that witchcraft. Just saying.

And one last thing. Don't fall for any of that nonsense that says, "If you will share this you will receive a blessing from God by 5:32pm today!" It doesn't work that way! Blessings certainly do come from God. But they come according to His Word, not according to social media.

Social media is a very powerful form of media. And used productively can change the world. For the Christian, let me say, you need to use social media for the spreading of the Gospel of Jesus; and for spreading the love of Jesus. Don't air your dirty laundry here. Don't put yourself in some kind of danger by volunteering all your information, and every single thing you do. It's OK to be social, but don't be foolish about it. Rant over!

All Things

I am intrigued with a Scripture verse penned by the man Paul in the Book of 1 Corinthians. "I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it." (1 Corinthians 9:23) You cannot deny that "all things" means "all things". This man doesn't do "most things" for the sake of the gospel. No, not even "a few things" for the sake of the gospel. But according to Paul, he does ALL THINGS for the sake of the gospel.

The gospel, of course, is the good news of the Kingdom of God. Here is why Paul was committed to the proclaiming of the gospel, and nothing else. According to his very own writing, the gospel is:
  • The power of God. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it (the gospel) is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes..." (Romans 1:16)
  • Light that reveals the glory of Christ. Paul also writes, "And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." (2 Corinthians 4:3-3)
  • Designed to be heard. The gospel must be heard in order to have the faith required to believe and receive it. Again, Paul writes, "How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? (Romans 10:14-15)
To the man Paul, there is no shame in the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He understands that the gospel contains the power of God. The word "power" here is the Greek work "dunamis". This is the same word (translated power) used to describe the outpouring/receiving of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. "...but you will receive power (dunamis) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." (Acts 1:8) The gospel of Jesus Christ contains the very power needed to create vacancies in hell! Somehow Paul got this. This is one of the reasons he did everything, ALL things for the sake of the gospel.

The gospel not only contains the power of God, it carries supernatural, divine light. Paul said that if our gospel is veiled, it is because the god of this world (the devil) has blinded folks minds, resulting in unbelief. Blind minds are unbelieving minds. When a person truly sees the glory of Christ, most likely they will trust in Him. But only the gospel contains the light that reveals the glory of Christ to the unbelieving. Paul understood that the gospel shines the light that reveals the glory of Jesus, that enables one to trust in Him.

It is obvious that Paul did ALL THINGS for the sake of the gospel because he understood that it must be heard. An unsaved person can experience God's power only through hearing of the gospel. And blinded minds can "see the light" only through hearing the truth of the gospel. So The "power" and the "light" are available only when the gospel is heard by people. And of course, the gospel cannot be heard unless someone proclaims it. By the way, to proclaim is to preach. To preach is to proclaim. And you don't need a pulpit to preach/proclaim. You just need to be willing to live for the sake of the gospel! You live to look for opportunities to tell someone about King Jesus and the Kingdom all the time.

Paul understood this. God help me to understand this too. Everyone needs Jesus. There is no lifestyle in existence too sinful or too far removed from Jesus to hear the gospel. Everyone must hear, see the light, and experience the power of God in order to know Him. The Scripture teaches, "Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people." (Matthew 4:23) The power flowed, not because Jesus was God, but because He proclaimed the gospel of the Kingdom! Let me prove this to you. The same thing was applied to the disciples, while Jesus was still here. "Jesus summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. And as you go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give." (Matthew 10:1, 7-8) Just like it happened for Jesus, the power flowed, and the light shone! In the book of Luke it says they rejoiced because even the demons were subject to them in Jesus' name. Add to that, for you and me, we have the power and presence of Holy Spirit today!

And finally, the greatest hindrance to proclaiming the gospel is all the stuff the world has to offer. We're distracted by Hollywood, TV, and a whole lot of social media, among many other things. This makes it even harder to do ALL THINGS for the sake of the gospel. But it doesn't change the fact however, that we must. No amount of being like the world to relate to the world will ever compare to the simple preaching and sharing of the gospel of the kingdom. When all is said and done, it won't be about the lights, the smoke, the show. It won't be about the latest flicks or TV shows. When all is done, it will be about King Jesus and how many folk you and I brought to Him. Will you join with me in making a commitment to live - starting right now - for the sake of the gospel? Ask Jesus, then trust Him to show you one step and a time, one day at a time how to live for the sake of the gospel. He will do it.

Are You Possessed By Your Possessions?

Connie and I like to watch those reality TV shows in which folks are looking to buy a house. I'm sure that, behind the scenes, they look at more, but on the show they look at three different houses. Then, at the end of the show, they choose they house they want to either purchase or rent.

It's amazing to me what most people want, especially if they are first-time buyers. Here are just a few things people want in their new home. They want to be near the center of the city, where all the activity is. They want at least 5 bedrooms, all with on-suite bathrooms. Even though it's their very first home, and it's only 2 of them (and a dog), they set their budget for at least $500.000. They guy usually wants his man cave in the basement. The biggest deal-breaker is a yard not big enough for the dog. I recently saw an episode in which the guy insisted they have a 3-car garage for all his toys. Oh, did I mention these were first-time buyers? I thought I might've. Then, if the house is more than 10 years old, it's completely "dated". Sometimes I'm embarrassed at Americans as they look to purchase or rent a home in another nation. The U.S. is not better, we're just a whole lot more materialistic. Listen to me. I'm not judging anyone. I'm simply sharing some observations I've made from watching a pretty decent reality show!

I have observed over the years of my life that things have drastically changed. I remember a time when a young couple got married, they began building a life together. This meant building their possessions together too. There was a time when most young folks had to begin with very humble means (Umble if you are from Texas). You worked and saved, and then purchased. The years of working and saving together bonded you together and protected you from the pressures of drowning in debt. Now most young folks want to begin their journey at the level it took their parents years to attain to. They want it all...now, at the cost of beginning their journey very deeply in debt.

Yes, times have changed. But that doesn't mean things are better. What has changed the times? The spirit of materialism. Materialism is a very powerful form of pride that says, "I want it. And I want it now!" Hollywood, TV, and media in general have planted, watered, and cultivated this seed over the years. Everybody has to be like somebody else. Everybody has to have what everybody else has....now! People are choking in debt because of the spirit of materialism. Even our government is constantly in danger of collapsing because of the debt and spending no one wants to bring under control.

We live in a materialistic society. It's ALL about stuff. The rich young ruler in Mark 10 was a prime candidate to become a follower of Jesus, and possibly one of the early apostles. But he was possessed by the abundance of property he owned. He walked away grieved from Jesus' invitation to follow Him because it meant giving up all he owned, and literally following Jesus from that day forward. He couldn't do it. He was possessed by his possessions. "For we have brought nothing into the world, so we can take nothing out of it either." (1 Timothy 6:7)

In Matthew Chapter 6, Jesus tells us not to lay up treasures here on earth for ourselves. Because thieves can break in and steal it, or moth and rust will ruin it. He said rather to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven where they won't be affected by the above things. Jesus' point is that everything we do in this life affects our eternity. Never forget: The greatest threat to our treasures in heaven is the spirit of materialism here on earth. When Jesus commented on the rich young ruler's rejection of His invitation to sell all and follow Him, He stated that materialism can keep us from entering the eternal Kingdom of God. That is serious.

Let me challenge you right now to examine your heart. Are you controlled by materialism? Can you look at your life today with  a view to eternity? Or is your life all about building the "here and now"? Jesus said, "If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me." To be free from the materialism that has infiltrated the church today, we must be able to trust Jesus. We must know what He said and believe what He said.
And finally, to be free from materialism doesn't mean you don't have anything. It means your things don't have you. Yes, there are cases in which God requires one to give up all or some of their material possessions. But in most cases He requires that we be "willing" to give it all up. That's when He can trust us. Remember, God blesses good stewardship (management of all He gives us). And the way we manage ALL of what He gives us determines much of what we have when we get there.