Saturday, October 31, 2015

A Worldly Heart

2 Peter 2:9-18

God warns us against misguided desires, because sinful passions can lead to emptiness, suffering, disappointment, pain, and even death. Wise believers let the Father direct their yearnings--and then make changes if necessary.

Impure desires have been part of the "flesh" nature since the fall of man, and they can be hard to see in ourselves. Instead of obvious things like theft, drugs, or immorality, they often involve more subtle attitudes and behaviors, like hoping for a rival's downfall, despising authority (2 Peter 2:10), obsessing about wealth (1 Tim. 6:9), or even speaking arrogant and vain words. Since worldly passions can cause great damage (2 Peter 2:18), believers are to deny them (Titus 2:11-12). But we can't overcome these desires on our own. Submitting to God's Spirit is the only way to live righteously.

The Lord knows what we really desire--and more importantly, what we need--even when cloudy judgment leads us astray. And He understands honest mistakes. When a believer misinterprets the Spirit's guidance or receives bad advice from a friend, God looks at the heart. He may allow the consequences of a poor choice to play out, but He won't shame His children for an honest mistake. He can turn a bad situation into something good (Rom. 8:28).

God can save us from worldly desires, but we must be willing to commit ourselves to Him and trust that His response is the best thing for us. When we put our lives entirely in the Father's hands, we can claim the wonderful promises He has for us and then rest in His grace.

Dr. Charles Stanley

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Face of God

The psalmist says in Psalms 30:7,
You hid Your face, and I was troubled.

One thing we should never want to experience is for God to hide His face, because the face of God represents His favor, friendship, and fellowship.

Now there is only one thing that causes God to hide His face from us.  It is found in Isaiah 59:1-2,

Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear.  But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.
Sin is the one thing that causes God's face to be hidden.  The Bible says we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God, which means the sin of mankind had hidden God's face.

But that is not the end of the story, thank goodness!  In Isaiah 50:6 we are told, "I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting."

Because Jesus did not hide His face from shame and spitting, because He took your place and died for your sins, God's face can shine upon you.

He could have hidden His face; He could have avoided the whole crucifixion, but He didn't. He bore a shame that was not His as God the Father laid the sin of the world on Him.
Because Jesus did not hide His face, the face of God need not be hidden from any of us. The light of God's countenance can shine upon every one of us, and we can indeed be the friends of God. 

Thank you, Jesus, for what you did!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

First Responder

by shani4jc

At the scene of most any major accident or tragedy, you will find policemen, fire fighters, and emergency medical technicians.  They are often referred to as "first responders" because they are among the first at the scene.  They are there to take control of the situation, access what needs to be done, and to offer whatever assistance is necessary. They provide care for the injured.  They bring comfort and encouragement to those involved. Their very presence brings a feeling of security.  Did you know that you have your very own "first responder" who is at your side before your tragedy even strikes?  Jesus is our on the scene before we even know about the scene.  He is standing by, ready, willing, and able to provide us whatever assistance we need.  He provides comfort, security, encouragement, strength, and guidance for us. He wants to help us through our hurts and heartaches.  When the marriage fails, He is there to pick up the pieces.  When the prodigal leaves home, He comforts the brokenhearted.  When the pink slip arrives, He gives security.  When the diagnosis is not good, He provides hope.  When the loved one breathes their last, He is there to help the grieving take one breath at a time to get through their devastation.  No matter what you are facing, He is there.  He is the first one on the scene...your very own "first responder."  Now that you know He is there, the question is, will He be your first response?  When tragedy strikes, will you call on Him first to help you through?  Will you allow Him to do what He so desperately wants to do?  Will you allow Him to be the One who brings you help, hope, comfort, security, encouragement, etc. or will you try to take care of it all on your own?

"...casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

3 Things to Consider Before Leaving Your Church

by Cindi McMenamin
If I asked you why you left your last church what would you say? 
If you relocated your family out of the area, I would understand. We all need a church in our own community. If you had unresolved conflict with someone after doing all you could to resolve it, I would extend grace. Even when we attempt to reconcile, that can still happen. And if you left because you were hoping to find a better program for your kids, I would ask what you are doing to shape the lives of your children.  
But chances are your reason for leaving was: "I wasn't being fed spiritually."  And that would make you like most people I’ve talked to. 
As a pastor's wife for more than 20 years, I can't tell you how many times I've heard someone say they are looking for a new church because they weren’t being fed. I didn’t hear it being said about my husband (at least not directly) but from others about why they were checking out our church, why they hadn't yet found a church, or why they have nearly given up on church altogether. 
I fear we are becoming a society of selfish Christians when we base our reasons for staying in or leaving a church on the question “what’s in it for me?”  
Here are three things to consider the next time you are thinking about leaving your church:  
1. Church is about more than your pastor. 
Is your pastor’s teaching -- or whether or not you like him personally or are feeling connected with him -- your reason for staying or leaving? If so, you have placed an unfair and unreasonable burden on him. Your pastor is certainly not capable of being ALL things --  a great teacher and expositor of the Word,  a top administrator, a superb vision-caster, a gentle and compassionate counselor, a dynamic people person, a detail-oriented leader, and so on. And therefore, he can’t possibly meet all your expectations. It is inevitable that he will eventually disappoint you in one way or another. He is human.  And prayerfully he will be the first to admit it. A true man of God is humble in his calling and wouldn’t want to be the reason you stay at your church, either.  If the Word of God is not being taught, that’s reason to find a church where it is being taught. But if it’s taught in a different style, or you don’t feel you’re getting enough of the Word to grow spiritually, read the second point. 
2. Church is about where you serve. 
Some friends of mine just received news that their pastor of 16 years accepted a call at a different church  a few thousand miles away. He came to California to plant a church on the West Coast and now that he has faithfully done what he was called to do, he is moving his family back to the South where he and his wife grew up to pastor the church in which he was raised and to be near their aging parents in this season of life. 
Once I talked with my friends I heard their reservations. “We came here for his preaching. We need to be in a church where we are fed. We'll see how it goes. We'll see if the new guy will feed us.“
If our idea of spiritual food is a 40-minute sermon on Sundays, then we need to learn to feed ourselves, not find another church – or pastor – to do our feeding. It isn’t a pastor's responsibility to keep you spiritually fed and healthy on a weekly sermon. Prayerfully, you are feeding yourself through regular reading and study of the Word of God,  discipleship and accountability from someone other than your your pastor, and service that is shaping you into the image of Christ.  
Also, If you trust that God led your pastor to your church in the first place, can you trust when He leads him out of your church and brings someone else to fill his spot? Instead of asking "Will the next guy feed me?" a better question to ask is "How can I encourage and serve this body while we wait for God's appointed person to arrive?" 
Hebrews 10:24 instructs: “and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds” (NASB). If everyone who comes through the doors of your church merely sits and listens, rather than exhorts and serves, you have a lecture series, a comedy club, or a weekly Bible class. Church is more about where you serve, than where you're fed. 
 3. Church is about a sense of family. 
The church – a body of believers – is about a sense of family and community. It is about being with those you love and serve because God has called you to a family. When we have problems with a family member, we work it out, instead of leaving the family. When we find other people we like better than our family we don’t just ditch the family. If we are truly functioning as the New Testament commands a church to function,  every part of the body is needed and if one part of the body hurt – or leaves – the rest of the body will feel it (1 Corinthians 12:18-20). Do you see your church as your family? Your community? Christ’s extended body through which we can know and serve Him better? If not, chances are you won’t see your next church as a family either. 
If you are thinking about leaving your church, I would ask you to consider three questions: 
1) Is the Word of God still being taught, obeyed, and honored here? 
2)  Is my service, encouragement, and spiritual giftedness needed here? 
3) How can I most effectively help build up this body where God has placed me? 
Sometimes God will call us elsewhere to serve Him because of what we can uniquely offer another body of believers. But God will not call us away from a church for our own personal gain. When we take the focus off of ourselves by no longer asking "what's in it for me?" and start asking God "where can I serve You?" we might have a clearer indication of where He is calling and how He wants to use us. 
Cindi McMenamin has been a pastor’s wife for more than 20 years. She is a national women’s conference speaker and author of several books, including  When a Woman Overcomes Life’s Hurts, When God Sees Your Tears, and When Couples Walk Together, which she co-authored with her husband, Hugh. She and her family live in Southern California. For more on her ministry and books to strengthen your soul, marriage, and parenting, see her website,

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

7 Sure-Fire Ways to Recognize False Teachers

by John UpChurch

A false teacher isn’t going to tell you he’s teaching heresy. In fact, he’ll usually look and sound so sincere and passionate that you wouldn’t know he’s actually twisting God’s Word. The size of the crowds around him won’t tell you much either, since many people have been and continue to be led astray by teaching that pleases their ears.
The prophet Jeremiah kept telling the people of Judah over and over what God planned for Jerusalem, urging them to turn from their wicked ways. But the people preferred to listen to false prophets who told them what they wanted to hear. We have to make sure we’re not doing the same.
So, how exactly can you tell if someone is “wolf in sheep’s clothing”? You become a “fruit inspector,” just as Jesus said (Matthew 7:15–16). According to Pastor Shane Idleman of Westside Christian Fellowship, there are 7 telltale signs that can take the wool from our eyes:

1. Different Source

True teachers will reach for the Bible first, second, and always. They may use other sources of information to help explain what Scripture reveals, but the foundation of their message is always built upon “Thus says the Lord….” If you start hearing more from other sources than God’s Word, you may need to hit the door.

2. Different Message

The entire message of a true teacher will always revolve around the gospel of Jesus Christ. False teachers may mention Jesus here and there, but they will ultimately deny His deity and power (2 Peter 2:1). Of course, they won’t do so openly at first, and you’ll need to listen carefully to see if Jesus is at the core.

3. Different Position

True teachers will point to our sin and our need for salvation—and their lives will back that up. False teachers will promise freedom, but they themselves will be “slaves to depravity” (2 Peter 2:19). If a teacher’s lifestyle points to lust, greed, envy, or other enslaving passions, they are certainly not fit to teach.

4. Different Character

Those who are truly following Jesus will run after the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23). They will never be perfect, but they will be working with all the strength God gives to become more and more like Christ. False teachers, on the other hand, live a life that screams “arrogance.” And that leads to destruction (Proverbs 16:18).

5. Different Appeal

What does the teacher point to as the reason for their teaching? Are they pointing to Scripture as the reason for their urgency in sharing the gospel? Are they wanting you to believe what God says about how we are to escape the wrath to come (Romans 5:9)? If so, good. False teachers will make their appeal based on earthly passions, leading people back into sin (2 Peter 2:18). They’ll urge you to focus on the things of this world.

6. Different Fruit

Always check the results in the lives of those who are listening to a teacher. Those listening to true teachers will grow in their knowledge of Jesus (2 Peter 3:18). Those sitting under a false teacher will be like a “spring without water” (2 Peter 2:17). In other words, they may talk a good talk, but they don’t produce anything of eternal value.

7. Different End

Here’s the part that should make us all stand up and take notice of why this matters. It’s a really big deal. False teachers lead people to a “swift destruction” (2 Peter 2:1). Jesus will tell them that He never knew them (Matthew 7:21–23). Those who listen to true teachers of the gospel will receive abundant life now and forever (Romans 5:17).
In a popular article on, Pastor Tom Hicks makes a similar distinction between true believers and hypocrites. It can be tough to tell the difference, but he provides 10 points to consider:
2. A true believer’s changed life comes from a heart of love to Christ. Hypocrites can clean up their outward behavior to be seen by men, to ease their troubled consciences, or to keep themselves from the consequences of their sins. But true believers love Christ and keep His commandments for His sake, to serve Him, to know Him, and to bring glory to His name (Ps 119:6).”
Now, it’s your turn. What marks do you look for in a false teacher? What can the church do to better keep false prophets and pastors out of the pulpits?

Monday, October 26, 2015

5 Things We Believe about Hell That Are Not in the Bible

by Carrie Dedrick

When was the last time you heard a sermon about hell? Can you even remember? Honestly, I can’t. What about the last time you heard someone mention hell? Now that, I remember vividly.

I was involved with a huge Christmas musical at my church last year that attracts thousands of people. While in a ballet rehearsal to prepare for the angel dance that comes right before the Nativity, a friend of mine said, “We need to get this together because there are going to be people that see this show and do not know Jesus. They are going to hell and this might be what saves them.”

I was completely taken aback. My friend had spoken offhand, and yet what she said impacts me to this day. It is so easy to live comfortably in our Christian bubbles without thinking about those who are not saved. But the truth is hell is real and those who do not accept Jesus will spend eternity there (John 14:6).

In a blog post titled “7 Truths about Hell,” author and pastor J. D. Greear says that hell is a confusing notion to wrap our heads around. He even admits that when he was a young Christian and learned about hell, he was so disturbed that he nearly lost his faith. But, he says, hell is in the Bible so Christians need to wrestle with the concept to fully understand God.

It is time to start talking about hell. But first, we need to get our facts straight. Here are five misconceptions that you may have about hell.

1. Seeing God face-to-face is a warm and fuzzy experience.

Greear writes that people believe seeing God would be a “warm and fuzzy” experience but they are wrong. The Bible says that God is so holy and perfect that if anyone would see God face to face, he would die (Exodus 33:20). God’s own prophet Isaiah fell to ground in fear when he saw God on his throne because he believed he would die (Isaiah 6:5)

Though we do not like the idea of eternal suffering in hell, Greear argues that it exists for a reason.

“God tells us about hell to demonstrate to us the magnitude of his holiness. Hell is what hell is because the holiness of God is what it is. Hell is not one degree hotter than our sin demands that it be,” he says.

2. Jesus didn’t talk about hell.

There are some who believe hell is not relevant because Jesus is “meek and mild” and only about love and compassion. They say that God only talked about hell in the Old Testament and transformed in the New Testament with the birth of Jesus. But this is simply not true.

Greear points out that Jesus did talk about hell, and he talked about it more than anyone else in the Bible.

“In fact,” he writes, “if you count up the verses, Jesus spoke more about hell than he did about heaven.”

3. Hell is a great blemish of God’s love.

Now that we know Jesus did talk about hell, the question becomes why he talked about it so much. Greear answers, “Because he wanted us to see what he was going to endure on the cross on our behalf.”

Jesus was crucified and endured both physical and mental pain. He was separated from God during his crucifixion, and in doing so, took “the hell of our sin into his body.”

“People often feel that hell is some great blemish on God’s love,” Greear said. “The Bible presents it as the opposite. Hell magnifies for us the love of God by showing us how far God went, and how much he went through, to save us.”

4. God sends people to hell.

Yes, those who do not accept Jesus will go to hell. But Greear says this is not God sending people to hell. They send themselves by rejecting Christ.

God has offered you the light of love, friendship and creation, Greear says. “But when you tell God you don’t want him as the Lord and center of your life, eventually you get your wish, and with God go all of his gifts.”

5. It’s enough for God to take us out of hell.

Some people accept Christ because they are scared of hell. This is not enough. Greear says, “It’s not enough for God to take us out of hell; he must take hell out of us.”

He means our hearts must be changed by loving and trusting God.

“If you accept Jesus just to ‘get out of hell,’ then you’d hate being in heaven, because only those who love and trust God will enjoy heaven,” Greear says. “If you don’t love the Father, then living in the Father’s house feels like slavery. It would be like forcing you to marry someone you didn’t want to marry. The only way you’ll enjoy heaven is when you learn to love and trust God.”

How are we to live our lives as Christians knowing the reality of hell? Russell Moore, President of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission has the answer.

“...hell is horrifying,” he writes. “God deems it so. Our response to such horror should not be denial, but the fervent evangelism of the nations.”

“Hell ought to drive us not to find misplaced hopes for the lost, but to the only hope for us, and for the whole world, the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Sunday, October 25, 2015

What Does God Look Like?

  • by Dr. Ray Pritchard

"No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known" (John 1:18).
What does God look like? The Bible doesn't leave us to wonder about the answer to that question. Nearly 2000 years ago a little baby was born in Bethlehem who forever answered that question. If you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus.  Hebrews 1:3 calls him the "shining forth of the glory of God."
If you want to know what God is like, look at Jesus. Does God have a name? Yes. His name is Jesus. In him the abstract becomes concrete. When I look at Jesus all those theoretical ideas about God suddenly become reality.
    -God now has hands.
    -And feet.
    -And eyes to see.
    -Ears to hear.
    -Lips to speak.

    -God has a voice!
    -He speaks a language I understand.

I see him touch a leper, and I know no one is too dirty for him.
I see him pause to speak to a beggar, and I know he's never too busy for me.
I see him feed the multitudes with loaves and fishes, and I know he can supply my needs.
I see him with the towel and the basin, and I know no job is too menial for him.

Finally I see him hanging on the cross, suspended between heaven and earth, beaten, bruised, bloodied, mocked, scourged, spat upon, jeered, booed, hated, attacked, scorned, despised, rejected, crucified. When I hear him cry out, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do," I suddenly understand that Jesus has no enemies. In Jesus I discover a God who takes people seriously. He never treats people casually. He never brushes them off. He never says, "You're a loser." He's a God who cares enough to get involved in this ugly, twisted, unredeemed world.
What does God look like? Take a look at Jesus and you have your answer.
Lord Jesus, if you had not come, we would not know the Father. Open our eyes that we might see how much God loves us. Amen.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Elbows & Ears

by Shawn McEvoy, Managing Editor
I will redeem you with an outstretched arm. Exodus 6:6
Be merciful to me and hear my prayer. Psalm 4:1
Once, when my son was just shy of three, he informed his mother he was drawing a picture of God.
"Oh… What does God look like?" she asked.
"Well, I put some elbows and some ears," he replied, and he went back to his work.
I was told that story when I came home from work. Cute, I thought. Not exactly as awe-inspiring as Ezekiel's vision, but sounds like a weird picture. I mean, where is the face?
"The face of the Lord is not one you could look upon" (Exodus 33:12-23), came the voice inside my head.
Where are the hands and feet?
That's you.
Oh yeah, that's true…
So… elbows and ears, huh?
Well, I guess God does reach us, and move us, and nudge us, and hold up the light to our paths. As Wayne Watson sang, "No one in this world can slip beyond the reaches of the long arm of the Lord."
And I know he hears us. He created us for fellowship. He desires praise and prayer. He's absolutely listening. He can even hear things we don't even know we're saying. As Steven Curtis Chapman sang, "The cross should have been mine, But His love broke through time, And heard my heart's cry."
So in one statement about one drawing by one child, I had digested a complete meditation on the nature of God, who He is and what He does, even what He leaves for us to do. As Casting Crowns sang, "If we are the body... Why aren't His hands healing... Why aren't His feet going?"
Intersecting Faith & Life: Consider today what part of the body you are playing, and what other parts (eyes, mouth, shoulders, etc.) describe what you know about the character of your God.

Friday, October 23, 2015

The key to fulfilling your every desire

Dr. Jack Graham
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.
Philippians 4:11–12
As a pastor, I have people come up to me all the time and ask me about how to overcome this or that temptation. And one conclusion I’ve come to after speaking with so many people is that every temptation is a solicitation to fulfill a God-given desire in a God-forbidden way. Let me explain…
Take food, for example. There’s nothing wrong with eating food. In fact, hunger is a God-given desire for life and sustenance. But the temptation can be to fulfill that desire through gluttony, which is obviously a sin.
This can also be applied to less tangible desires, like the desire to be loved and accepted. A God-honoring way to fulfill that desire would be to find love and acceptance in Him. But sadly, many people try to find love and acceptance solely in the things of the world and become enamored with searching and searching for something they’ll never find.
Desires are normal. Search God’s Word and discover what glorifies Him. Understand He’s created you with desires. And ask God for His leading in showing you how you can find your ultimate need and satisfaction in Him alone!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Distractions and Doubt

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us, (Heb 12:1)
There are weights which are not sins in themselves, but which become distractions and stumbling blocks in our Christian progress. One of the worst of these is despondency. The heavy heart is indeed a weight that will surely drag us down in our holiness and usefulness.
The failure of Israel to enter the land of promise began in murmuring, or, as the text in Numbers literally puts it, “as it were murmured.” Just a faint desire to complain and be discontented. This led on until it blossomed and ripened into rebellion and ruin. Let us give ourselves no liberty ever to doubt God or His love and faithfulness to us in everything and forever.
We can set our will against doubt just as we do against any other sin; and as we stand firm and refuse to doubt, the Holy Spirit will come to our aid and give us the faith of God and crown us with victory.
It is very easy to fall into the habit of doubting, fretting, and wondering if God has forsaken us and if after all our hopes are to end in failure. Let us refuse to be discouraged. Let us refuse to be unhappy. Let us “count it all joy” when we cannot feel one emotion of happiness. Let us rejoice by faith, by resolution, by reckoning, and we shall surely find that God will make the reckoning real. —Selected
The devil has two master tricks. One is to get us discouraged; then for a time at least we can be of no service to others, and so are defeated. The other is to make us doubt, thus breaking the faith link by which we are bound to our Father. Lookout! Do not be tricked either way. —G.E.M.
Gladness! I like to cultivate the spirit of gladness! It puts the soul so in tune again, and keeps it in tune, so that Satan is shy of touching it—the chords of the soul become too warm, or too full of heavenly electricity, for his infernal fingers, and he goes off somewhere else! Satan is always very shy of meddling with me when my heart is full of gladness and joy in the Holy Ghost.
My plan is to shun the spirit of sadness as I would Satan; but, alas! I am not always successful. Like the devil himself it meets me on the highway of usefulness, looks me so fully in my face, till my poor soul changes color!
Sadness discolors everything; it leaves all objects charmless; it involves future prospects in darkness; it deprives the soul of all its aspirations, enchains all its powers, and produces a mental paralysis!
An old believer remarked, that cheerfulness in religion makes all its services come off with delight; and that we are never carried forward so swiftly in the ways of duty as when borne on the wings of delight; adding, that Melancholy clips such wings; or, to alter the figure, takes off our chariot wheels in duty, and makes them, like those of the Egyptians, drag heavily.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

God's Call to Repentance

In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the younger brother asked to receive his inheritance early so he might live as he chose. Once the father gave him his share, he made many unwise choices that led to hunger and destitution. What happened next illustrates the principles of godly repentance.
After squandering all his money, the young man found work feeding pigs, a bottom-of-the-barrel kind of job. One day he came to his senses and recognized his terrible plight. His repentance began with an awareness of his wrong choices and the fact that his bad situation was due to them.
Knowing that his difficulties came from his sinful behavior, the prodigal grieved over his mistakes and acknowledged that he had sinned against the Lord (v. 18). He declared he was no longer worthy to be his father's son. Godly sorrow and confession led the young man to leave that place and go home. His repentance was made complete when he turned away from his old ways and returned to his father. The Lord likewise calls us to repent and return to Him.
What a welcome the prodigal son received. Upon seeing him, the father was filled with compassion and ran to embrace him. Forgiveness and acceptance were extended to the son. Both are blessings that God freely offers to whoever asks Him.
The prodigal son did not clean himself up before returning home. He simply left his old life, turned toward home, and trusted in his father's mercy. The heavenly Father calls us to repent and offers us forgiveness when we turn away from our self-centered ways and move toward godliness (1 John 1:9).
Dr. Charles Stanley

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Holy? Or Just “Holier Than Thou”?

Devotions taken from the messages of Adrian Rogers.

“For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” Leviticus 11:44

Some people think that to be holy means to be odd. No, we’re to be different. We have too many Christians doing unbiblical things who claim to be holy when in reality they are just odd.

Holiness is not achieved by what we wear, where we sleep and eat, or how many spiritual things we do. It is not primarily a matter of dress or style of hair. And we don’t become holy if we live in a commune, monastery, or convent. There is no holiness in a hole.

God makes us holy by the blood of His Son. And in return for this great love, we endeavor to live holy lives because we love Him. “Holy” is a state of being, not doing. It is a God-induced, God-developed character trait that grows in us as we grow in our love relationship with God.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Work hard for the harvest

by Sumner Wemp

"I am the vine, ye are the branches; he that abideth in me and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit, for without me ye can do nothing' John 15:5. I have done no farming but I have been in all 50 states and on many farms. One thing is very common, they all work hard. The same is very true in the spiritual world. Pastors and people who produce much, work much. They do not sit around hoping and praying they will have a good harvest. They plow, plant, prune and pick to have a good harvest. I have a powerful, primary passion and purpose in this life. I do not want anyone to miss heaven and land in hell. Hell will not be a joke for one minute.

God loves you and proved it beyond doubt. He sent His own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who knew no sin, to suffer and die for your sins and mine on the cross, paid our debt in full, rose again and was a seen alive by multitudes of people. Will you also believe God that Jesus loved you also and paid your debt for your sins in full and you believe God that is what gets you to heaven.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Can we all be soul winners?

by Sumner Wemp

"I sent YOU to reap" John 4:38. Think about this. God does not send us out to play tiddelee winks with manhole covers. I get depressed when I hear people say we can't all be soul winners. Excuse me but that is pure unbelief. God said "the harvest is plenteous" the problem is "the laborers are few" Matt. 9:37. Dear Dad, your family, your church, the WORLD especially, needs YOU. Please don't live in the stands but we need your help in the game of life. Someone was in the game and helped you to get saved and go to heaven instead of hell. I am 90 years old, still in the game. I need you and your help to change this world back to God. If not already doing it, come go with me and bring your family.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Rehearse what the Lord has done

“The thief cometh not, but for to steal and to kill and to destroy; (you and me) I (the Lord Jesus) am come that they (you and me) might have life and that they might have it more abundantly” John 10:10. Please don't get robbed. Multitudes are being robbed daily and do not know it. On Mar, 24, 1941 at the Franklin St. Baptist Church in Jacksonville Fla. I heard Pastor Pat Wimberly preach that God loved me and the Lord Jesus suffered and died to pay for my sins in full and rose so that I could trust that He paid for my sins in full so I could go to heaven. by believing God that Jesus paid my way to heaven fully. I believed God, trusted Jesus and God saved me and I have not gotten over it yet.

My folks were very poor. My dear mother was a pessimist and talked like we were going to the "Poor House” any day. God blessed me. I graduated from college and graduate school. Met this beautiful girl, Celeste, we married, were going to the mission field, the jungles of Brazil but God closed that door. I became a pastor. I believed God and prayed fervently that He would give me life abundantly and let me serve Him fervently.

He did and I have preached in every State but Rhode Island. Celeste and I have been in over 70 countries ministering in almost all of them. We have taught in five Christian colleges and seminaries. Written many Christian articles published in very good Christian publications. "Israel rehearsed all that GOD HAD DONE WITH THEM” Acts14:27, 15,4,5,12. (great lessons - read those verses)  This is what I have written, “what God has done.”

YOU, God wants YOU to have life more abundantly. He said so in John 10:10. You can have it abundantly if you will trust and obey PLEASE, PLEASE DO.
Your servant, C. Sumner Wemp 1 John 3:2

Friday, October 16, 2015

Can You Hear Me Now?


"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." John 10:27 (ESV)

Maybe you’ve heard someone say, "The Lord told me _____" or "I’ve sensed the Lord saying _____ to my heart." Did it make you wonder if you could discern God’s voice too?

Maybe like me, you’ve wondered: Is it really possible to hear God’s voice? Can I know when He is speaking to me? Maybe that was just a random thought? What if I make a decision based on what I think God is saying and then discover I was wrong … then what?

I wrestled with these questions several years ago when our family was going through a tough time. Much was at stake, and despite numerous conversations with my husband, considering every option, it was clear that a sacrifice was required.

One morning, as I stared into my bathroom mirror — trying to ignore the knot in my stomach and holding back a wall of tears — I turned on my blow dryer and started drying my hair.

I asked again, "Lord, what if I can’t discern what You’re telling me? Will all the chaos and thoughts swirling in my mind drown out Your voice?"

As the high-pitched sound of my blow dryer blasted away, I began to hear another sound. It was muffled and faded, yet I was aware of it.

I ignored the sound at first, but even with my blow dryer going, I could still hear a familiar tone.

I turned off the blow dryer and surprisingly heard my friend Renee Swope. Confused at first, I walked into the bedroom and realized her voice was coming from the radio. She and Proverbs 31 Ministries President, Lysa TerKeurst, host a daily broadcast called "Everyday Life with Lysa and Renee."

Renee and I have been friends for years. We’ve spent lots of time together engaging in honest and transparent conversations.

As I listened to Renee’s voice, the thought came to me, "Because you know Renee so well and have spent a lot of time with her, you can discern her voice, despite the overwhelming noise of the blow dryer."

I realized God was teaching me a new truth about discerning His voice.

Just like my close relationship with Renee, God showed me that a close relationship with Him — based on truth, transparency and time invested — was essential to discerning His voice.

Over the years, as I’ve spent more time in God’s presence — through prayer, reading His Word and singing songs of worship — I’ve come to know Him better and recognize His voice.

Maybe you’ve felt like God has been silent lately. Like you’re not sure God actually speaks to you or that you’re capable of discerning His voice. If so, let me give you three things to consider:

Believe: Jesus said in John 8:47a, "Whoever belongs to God hears what God says" (NIV). If you’ve accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, then you belong to Him. You already have the capability of discerning God’s voice when He speaks to you. This happens through the work of the Holy Spirit.

1 Samuel 3:9b says, "Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening" (NIV). What if we approached each day with an attitude of anticipation, making this verse a welcome invitation for the Lord to speak to us? Let’s set our hearts and minds to a place of readiness as we wait to hear from God.

Follow: Jesus said in John 10:27, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me" (ESV). God doesn’t just speak to be heard. He speaks to be obeyed. When we discern God’s voice of direction or correction, we have to be willing to follow in obedience.

That day in my bathroom was a defining moment. I didn’t receive a specific answer to what our family was supposed to do. But I did receive a beautiful promise from God, that when the time was right, He would let us know. And no noise from this world would block out His voice, as long as we stayed close to Him.

Dear God, help me discern Your voice. Give me an attitude of anticipation to wake up every morning and say, "Speak, Lord, your servant is listening." And when You speak, let me be faithful to follow and obey You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY: Isaiah 30:21, "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’" (NIV)

Jeremiah 33:3, "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." (NIV)

Editor's Note: I cannot tell you how many times I have read this devotional only to go on to the next without so much as a hint that it might be needed by a reader... This morning, I find myself needing to hear what was written so long ago...
Thank you My LORD for your patience...

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Your Burdens

“I shall call upon God, and the LORD will save me. Evening and morning and at noon, I will complain and murmur, and He will hear my voice . . . Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” - Psalm 55:16-22 NASB

The son of slaves, Charles Tindley consistently demonstrated initiative. Born in Maryland on this day in 1851, he became determined to secure an education, in spite of the obstacles. He taught himself to read and write, and worked as a janitor while attending night school. He earned his divinity degree through a correspondence course, and even taught himself Greek and Hebrew. Then, in
1902, he became pastor of the Philadelphia church where he had served as janitor.

One day, Tindley was visited by a man who was overwhelmed with worries. Tindley responded, “My advice to you is put all your troubles in a sack, take ’em to the Lord, and leave ’em there.”

As he did so often (as the “father of Gospel music”), Tindley turned this conviction into a song. He wrote, “If the world from you withhold of its silver and its gold, and you have to get along with meager fare, just remember, in His Word, how He feeds the little bird; take your burden to the Lord and leave it there.” The message was repeated: “If you trust and never doubt, He will surely bring you out.”

Tindley knew that this truth applied in every situation. “If your body suffers pain and your health you can’t regain, and your Soul is almost sinking in despair, Jesus knows the pain you feel, He can save and He can heal.”

Do you have burdens that seem overwhelming? It can be easy to go through the motions and still carry burdens. Don’t let this happen to you. Obey God’s Word! Cast your burdens on Him! And leave them with Him.

Today's Inspiration Prayer

Father, I commit these burdens to You: __________. I cast them on You. Thank You for taking them away. Thank You for Your peace and freedom. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Submit Yourself

James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
I have often heard, “What can I do to fight the devil?”, or, “ That devil just won't leave me alone!”, and, “How can I get rid of this evil spirit that follows me around”?
Our Bible verse today answer those questions in a two step phase. First we must “submit” then we must “resist”.
I believe the first step is harder than the second. People just don't want to submit to anyone. Folks tend to think they know what's best and go about trying to have their own way. Well, early on I found out I didn't know it all. On my job I realized others could do it better and faster. In my marriage I recognized my wife's gifts I didn't have. In ministry God let me know real quick I was not very smart concerning my Bible and spiritual matters. Yes!, Christian friends, we must “submit” ourselves to God in every way.
The second step is so simple we tend to overlook it during a crisis with the devil. Some people try to talk to and reason with the devil. Devil wins every time. Some shallow Christians try to ignore or pretend its not the devil that is bothering them. Devil wins again. Then there are a few folks who will turn to their Bible for help. They find Jesus rebuking the devil, turning his back to the devil, and, ordering the devils to be gone. Jesus resisted the devil!
When the devil comes at me with temptation, I remind him of how and where I got saved. I try to tell him of my salvation experience. Suddenly, I find my self talking to my self. The devil has left the scene!!
God Bless;
Walter D. Hill D. Min.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

How We Answer Our Own Prayers


"Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.’" Luke 11:1 (ESV)

A group of teenagers and I sat cross-legged on the church lawn, soaking in the warm summer sunshine. We’d just taken a break from a group game to sip something cold and visit. One of the girls had just returned from a mission trip in a developing nation and I couldn’t wait to hear about her experience.

"So, Renee, tell us about your trip." I inquired. "What is the one thing you think you will remember the most?"

I imagined her answer would have something to do with a child who captured her heart with a sweet smile. Or a church service she attended that was so very different from ours. Neither of these guesses were right.

"Oh, that’s easy. I will always remember it was on this trip when I learned how easy it is in our culture to answer our own prayers."

Her statement stunned me for a moment. I wondered, What in the world did she mean by that? Answer our own prayers? Only God answers prayer, right? But before I could pipe up and ask her to explain further, she continued.

"You see, here in America, we bow our heads and say grace and ask God to ‘give us this day our daily bread.’ And then? We hop in our cars, run down to the grocery store and buy a loaf or two. We ask Him to keep us safe and warm. Then parents buy their kids the best car seats available, and we crank up the furnace whenever we feel chilly. It is so easy in our culture to provide the answer to our own prayers. But the people I met on the trip? They pray God will give them their daily bread, not knowing if they will have enough food to feed their families that night. Their prayers are bold. They ask God for things they can’t always provide for themselves."

I had never thought of this concept before and it caused me to think about two things.

First, I want to use my abundance to help answer someone else’s prayers. To share the privilege I have been given with others.

Second, I need to learn to pray bold prayers, asking God for the things that only He can bring about. That is if they are in accordance with His will. To pray for requests in my life beyond the, "Lord, keep us safe and warm and well-fed. Amen." routine we can often fall into.

Today’s key verse from Luke 11 gives me hope that I’m not alone in thinking my prayer life could use a makeover. Luke 11:1 reminds us that even the disciples wanted help learning how to pray. They saw Jesus praying and desired to follow His example.

Ephesians 3:20-21 tells us God can do things we can’t even dream of. Even provide answers to questions that we often hesitate to even ask. This suggests we can be daring when we pray, asking God for great things done only in His great strength.

My little chat with this spiritually sensitive teen changed me. I began to work into my prayers not only requests that God would help me be attentive to those who need my help, but also that He would help me make bold requests I can’t possibly answer myself. And then, that I would stand back and — in faith — watch Him work.

How about you? Is your prayer list full of items you can cross off yourself? Perhaps it’s time you, too, began to ask, "Lord, teach me to pray."

Father, teach me to pray more boldly. May I be both generous in giving and faith-filled in my prayers. Help me pray more confident prayers that can’t be answered on my own and can only happen through Your power. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY: Psalm 138:3, "In the day when I cried out, You answered me, And made me bold with strength in my soul." (NKJV)

Luke 11: 9-10, "And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened." (NLT)

© 2015 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

Monday, October 12, 2015

God's Perfect Timing

Philippians 4:19 – And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (NKJV)

Some time back, Jackie and I decided to start checking out various auto dealers for a used SUV-type vehicle for Jackie's home-care work. Some of the roads she navigates are remote and pretty rough, so we needed something higher off the ground than a car.

After praying about this, we checked out our local places, then took a trip to Kamloops. We spent pretty much the whole day looking at and test-driving various vehicles, none of which had the right combination of price, visibility, and comfort for Jackie's back.

As dusk was settling in and we were thinking we weren't going to find anything that day after all, we drove to the opposite end of town and happened to notice another dealership.

As we strolled onto their lot, a salesman mentioned that they had just received delivery of a used vehicle that had been driven in from Alberta, which had actually arrived ahead of time. The asking price was in our ballpark, so we decided to take it out for a test drive with this fellow.

As we were driving around, Jackie knew that this was definitely going to be our best bet. The salesman asked us where we were from and what we did, and when we mentioned that I was a Christian pastor, he surprised us by saying that he himself was a new Christian, and that his brother had just recently led him to receive Jesus into his life as Lord and Saviour.

We then had a really good chat together with this new brother in Christ, getting to know him a little better in sharing things from the Lord in our lives. By the time we got back and made the deal for the vehicle, it was past closing time at the dealership. After we had signed all the paperwork, our new friend, Murray, told us that he had been praying for a desperately-needed financial boost, as he and his family had really been hit hard. He then thanked and praised God (and us), because it was the last day of the month, and this sale was just enough to qualify him for their monthly sales bonus.

Talk about God's perfect timing in answering prayer! A place we had no intention of bothering with, a vehicle arriving ahead of time, a Christian in need, the right thing for us at the right price, and desperately-needed bonus money for Murray and his family for which he qualified on the last day of the month and after business hours. Just before we left, he phoned his wife with this great news as to why he was late getting home. Murray thought that he had run out of time for this to happen, but for God, it was just another display of His perfect timing in all things.

Not all of our prayers are answered in such dramatic ways, but it is encouraging to know that our God is a God of love and power, and that He does have miraculous ways of providing for our needs. We just need to trust Him.

Prayer: Lord, help us never to forget that You are in control and that You love us. Help us to trust Your timing in the working out of Your will in our lives and in all things. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

Bruce Wilcox <>

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Time to Move from "I Am" to "I Will"

Your attitude determines who you are: I am joyous. I am angry. I am grateful. I am jealous.

You get the picture. Our attitudes are the foundations of our actions. If I am joyous, I will tend to be an encouraging person. If I am angry, I will tend to be a critical person.

Pull quote

To help illustrate this point, let me talk about my marriage to Nellie Jo from my own perspective.

Let’s presume I have all the healthy attitudes in place. I love her unconditionally. I focus on her strengths more than her weaknesses. I am grateful for her, for the gift from God that she is to me.

And that’s it.

I never serve her. I never ask her out for a date. I never offer her words of encouragement. I rarely spend time with her.

So what would Nellie Jo think of my good attitudes? She would rightly think they are contrived and insincere. She would doubt my commitment. She would wonder if I am truly committed to our marriage.

Maybe many of you reading this have a good attitude about your church. Maybe you are not in the group that whines, complains, nags, and pouts. Maybe your heart is really in the right place.

So here is my simple question. Is your attitude reflected in your actions? In case you are wondering where I am headed with this question, let me offer you an example.

Several years ago, we considered the most active church members who attended church around three times a week. They might attend a Sunday morning Bible study or a Sunday morning worship service. Others might return for Sunday evening events or Wednesday activities.

Do you know how much that perspective has changed in just a few years? Today, many pundits define an active church member as someone who attends church events or services at least three times a month.

Did you get that? An active church member has now been re-defined from three times a week to three times a month!

I can anticipate potential objections, “Don’t make this matter a legalistic obligation! We don’t need an activity checklist to be close to God!” I understand. But let me ask you this question. Would your spouse think you are still devoted to him or her if you decided to reduce your time with him or her by 75 percent? That’s what is happening with even some of our most committed church members.

It’s time.

It’s time for a decision.

It’s time for a church membership revolution.

Pull quote

Not because we are legalistically obligated. Not because we equate activities to commitment. But because a great attitude toward your church, the bride of Christ, will result in great actions for her.

Will you join me in this revolution? Will you prayerfully consider giving your life’s all to commitment to Christ through His church? Will you be a part of a movement that will change the world as the body of Christ unites in force with renewed effort and renewed zeal?

It’s time.

Christ is calling all church members to forsake self and to serve others for His sake. In doing so, our church becomes our priority and our focus as it was in the New Testament.

Listen carefully to this call of God. Listen to how you can discern your commitment in His church. And when you begin to understand the action plans He has set before you, be prepared to respond with two simple words.

I will.


Excerpted from I Will by Thom Rainer
Excerpted from I Will: Nine Traits of the Outwardly Focused Christian by Thom S. Rainer

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Apple Cider

Isaiah 55:1 - Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. (NASB)

On a hot, fall day our high school marching band took part in the Apple Festival in Chilhowie, Virginia, USA. We marched in a parade, then waited around for our time to compete in the field competition. After that parade, I was hot and thirsty. I went to a vendor who had cans of soft drinks. The one I bought was good and cold, but it did not quench my thirst. Then I saw a vendor who had bottles of ice cold apple cider. I bought one of those, and that hit the spot.

We are created with a spiritual thirst, but most people don't know what will quench that thirst. We may try different things, activities, or relationships, but they don't quench it completely. Disappointed, we go on to something else which we think might fill that need in us. But Jesus Christ is the only one who can really quench our spiritual thirst.

There is a cost to what we *think* will quench our thirst: possessions, adventures, relationships. But what *will* quench our spiritual thirst is free: the cost is not ours to pay. But to quench this thirst it cost Jesus Christ His life. He gave His life so we could be filled without cost.

Matthew 5:6 – Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. (NASB)

Let us all partake of Jesus Christ to quench our spiritual thirst. And let us share Him with others so they may know what will truly quench their thirst.

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, we thank You for giving Your life for us. Thank You for offering Yourself to quench our thirst. Help us to continually drink from Your supply. Help us to let others know that You are the only One who can quench their thirst. Amen.

by Dean W. Masters