Sunday, September 28, 2014

Just Enough to Get By

"I would like to buy three dollars’ worth of God, please. Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough of Him to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I don't want enough of Him to make me love a black man or pick beets with a migrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation. I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the eternal in a paper sack, please. I would like to buy three dollars’ worth of God, please." Wilbur Reese penned these words several years ago to capture the true sentiment of many people. Some think that God is a good thing to include in their life as long as He really doesn't get in the way or require too many changes.  As long as the cost isn't too great, God is given a place but not the place in their life. They want forgiveness--not conversion. However, when you look at the story of Zacchaeus it is evident that he doesn’t fit into this category. He wanted and experienced real conversion. When the invitation came for him to open his house to Jesus, he responded with a bold “yes.” He welcomed the Messiah into his home as well as into his heart holding nothing back. How do we know this encounter resulted in conversion? Luke gives us a glimpse as he unfolds the story. The man short in stature before meeting Christ had a large passion for power, position, and wealth. However, listen to his post-encounter response: “Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold." And then we read the words of Jesus, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." What strikes me as being unusual here is the fact that this newly forgiven sinner was never asked to do the things he agreed to do. He was never asked to give to the poor or to restore that which was stolen. So what is the point to be made?  Simply stated, when people move beyond forgiveness to conversion they make decisions based on responsibility rather than necessity. We do things because we want to not because we have to. Such actions attest to the fact that converted people are not satisfied with having their soulish slate wiped clean. They are not to be categorized as those who seek only do what is required. Their desire is to move beyond the thrill to the real; to move beyond the needful to the natural. This means as new creatures they are consumed with walking out their faith. In essence they are never satisfied with doing just enough to get by.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Revelation

In Matthew 16, we read about one of the greatest revelations of all time.  Jesus is asking the disciples who people are saying He is. After several answers are given, rambunctious Peter who was good at sticking his foot in his mouth blurted out, “You are the Christ the Son of the living God.” Rather than being rebuked, Jesus commends the less than perfect disciple and responds by saying, “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.  And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."  This entire conversation took place at the site of Pan--the premier god of that day. This god represented universalism—involving sexual orgies, the worship of nature, and what we would call today the worship of humanism.  No doubt Jesus had this idol worship in mind in his statement and assured his listeners that as bad as it was it would not overcome the church. We have a hard time identifying with this picture, but if you go to a place like India you understand.  They have more than 330 million gods which includes almost everything.  In the city of Tirupati, they have a temple which is considered the most sacred worship center in all of the country.  More than thirty thousand people visit it daily giving in excess of more than 500 thousand dollars in contributions every day.  People bring their gold and other precious possessions and throw them upon the altar.  The rich, the poor, the elite and the common all come to worship.  Each year the country celebrates a festival where they bring their gods on trucks and throw them into the river.  After they cast them in, the professional divers dive into the water break the plaster off, harvest the metal and take it to the market in order to sell it.  You ask “How can people be so deceived?”  You might say “America could never be so naive.” Yet we are in a society submerged in the worship of self, pleasure, and wealth. So much so it is creating tidal waves of opposition against the worship of the one and only true God. Bibles, prayer, crosses, and other religious rituals and items are being banned from the public arena. However, what the believer must keep in mind is the fact that we have a revelation; this satanic push will not prevail against His church. Regardless of how negative it gets, the Church will triumph and will stand victoriously.  

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Mission Mandate

One of the last things Jesus said to his disciples before departing earth is given to us in Matthew 28:18-20 “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you…” As you read this, a team of ministers including myself will be doing just that in the country of India. This is a nation entrenched in Hinduism and has a strong Muslim constituency. Yet, there are those who are hungry for a spiritual walk that goes beyond what they have been exposed to. It is my prayer that we will not leave them disappointed. Any attempt to change the culture and spiritual mores of a people group meets with resistance. However, we believe God will give us success.  In addition we realize victory does not come without partnership. We will be depending upon the Holy Spirit to give us the power to meet all challenges. Just as importantly, we will be leaning upon the prayers of those who will be interceding for us because we believe prayer works. To all the members of Grace Point, I would like to thank you for being mission minded and for sponsoring me in this endeavor. To those who have privately contributed to the cause, I pray that God will reward you with blessing beyond measure. To those who read this post, I ask you to join us by serving as an Aaron or Hur holding up our arms of ministry as we do battle. As a united force together we will fulfill the Mission Mandate! 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Keys of the Kingdom

Have you ever found some old keys lying around your house and couldn’t remember what they were for?  Myles Monroe states, “Possessing a key you cannot identify or match to a particular lock is as bad as not having a key at all.” He continues, “What good are keys you can’t use?  They are as useless as locks you can’t open.” And when you think about it the problem gets even more complicated when you have keys but are trying to open the wrong lock. A few days ago I took a trip with some friends that required us to use a rental car.  Upon reaching our destination we decided to get lunch. We found a good Mexican restaurant went in and ordered.  I realized I had left something in the car so I went back out to retrieve it. I walked up to the vehicle pressed the unlock button and nothing happened. I pressed it again and got the same response. I said to myself, “This thing isn’t working, maybe the battery is dead.” I grabbed the door handle pushed the button again and suddenly realized the car I was trying to open was not ours. Someone had pulled beside us in a vehicle that was similar in model and was the identical same color. Of course I was embarrassed and prayed that the owner wasn’t watching. Jesus had this to say about “keys” in Matthew 16:19.  “And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." However, the problem with many believers today is, we have a big bunch of “spiritual keys” but most don’t know how to use them.  We have the keys, but we don’t know which key unlocks which lock or we are trying to open the wrong lock.  God’s desire is that we understand the concept of the Kingdom and learn how to use the keys of that Kingdom.  There are so many issues pertaining to our families, our health, our finances and our freedom that need to be bound or loosed. We can only do so as we seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance in helping us find the right “key.”  For it is the Father’s desire to give us the “keys” of the Kingdom.