Monday, October 3, 2022

Troubling Times...

Today's Readings: OT - Proverbs 11:1-12 / NT - Galatians 4:8-31

"You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first, and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus." - Galatians 4:13-14
It was due to family illness that I found myself back home on Long Island, preaching at a small church in Dix Hills in 1977. Those circumstances, difficult as they were, brought me together with a loving church family that invited me to be their pastor. I will always treasure those God appointed years as a great blessing. Troubling times are God's ways of achieving eternal purposes.

As Paul traveled far and wide with the gospel message, he reached some people and not others. God's plan was often clarified with such leading as in the Macedonian call, recorded in Acts 16:10. On other occasions Paul and his team were led by the prevailing winds of providential circumstances. For the Galatians, his ministry to them came about as a result of "a bodily ailment". Troubling times were God's ways of achieving eternal purposes.

Are you struggling through a series of hard times my friend? Is life full of illness, financial setbacks, or family trauma? Do you find yourself dealing with people and places that you never expected? Well, look for Divine connections or unique opportunities to be a blessing and share the Lord. Remember... troubling times are God's ways of achieving eternal purposes.

Think about this: "Christian people are generally at their best when they are in the furnace of affliction and being persecuted and tried."

                                     ~ D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Proverbs 11:13-31 / NT - Galatians 5

Sunday, October 2, 2022

Never Late!

Today's Readings: OT - Proverbs 10 / NT - Galatians 3:15-4:7

"But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons." - Galatians 4:4-5

The words from Alice in Wonderland often come to mind in this busy world we live in: "I'm late, I'm late for a very important date." Too many people, on too many occasions are late for very important dates. As a result, we tend to lower our expectations and even believe that the Lord will be late for our very important needs. But God... is never late!

Paul noted that Jesus came to be our Savior at just the right time. He didn't come too early, or too late. God had a time table that ticked away with exact precision and when the time had fully come, God sent his Son. To this very day God is following his time table and will bring life and blessing to each one of his children on time. Our God... is never late!

Trusting the Lord involves the patience that lives within God's time table. We need to wait on Him with utmost confidence that he will accomplish his will and our best in his time. Solomon said it in Ecclesiastes 3:11, "He has made everything beautiful in its time." Wait on the Lord my friend, for he is never late for a very important date!


Think about this: "God dwells in eternity, but time dwells in God. He has already lived all our tomorrows as he has lived all our yesterdays."
                                                                                            ~ A. W. Tozer

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Proverbs 11:1-12 / NT - Galatians 4:8-31

Saturday, October 1, 2022

On the Bus...

Today's Readings: OT - Proverbs 9 / NT - Galatians 3:1-14

"Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?" - Galatians 3:3
The story is told of a traveler with a heavy backpack. Along his journey he was given a free bus ride, but he wouldn't take off his pack. When encouraged to do so he replied, "You've been kind enough to give me a ride, I couldn't expect you to carry the weight of my pack as well"... foolish logic, right? The principle is simple; if you're on the Bus, you're all on the Bus or you're not on the Bus at all.

Along the away, Paul grows quite impatient with the believers to whom he was writing. They began their walk with God in faith. The Spirit of God transformed their lives and secured their place in God's family. Yet, they were now misguided to believe that human effort was their resource for spiritual security and growth. Paul reminded them that the child of God begins, continues and ends his journey by faith alone. If you're on the Bus, you're all on the bus or you're not on the Bus at all.

My friend, your greatest frustration in the Christian life will be failure to walk by faith. When you lean on your own strength and human effort, rather than the Spirit of God, the way will be hard. Paul wrote in verse 14, "He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit." If we begin by faith with the promised Spirit providing our greatest need, you can be sure He will provide for the rest of the journey. If you're on the Bus, you're all on the Bus or you're not on the Bus at all.

Think about this: "No more, my God, I boast no more Of all the duties I have done: I quit the hopes I held before, To trust the merits of thy Son."
                                                      ~ Isaac Watts

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Proverbs 10 / NT - Galatians 3:15-4:7

Friday, September 30, 2022

A Godly Example...

Today's Readings: OT - Proverbs 8:16-36 / NT - Galatians 2

"When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray." - Galatians 2:11-13
It has been said that imitation is the greatest form of flattery. There were times that I wanted to be just like my father and there have been times that my sons have wanted to be like me. From time to time, we are all influenced enough to imitate someone. But do we ever consider that we too are influencing others to the point of imitation? If we are imitated, are we leading others astray or into truth?

Paul was led to rebuke Peter to his face for hypocrisy. Peter's conduct was confusing and inconsistent with Biblical truth. While his personal practice was disturbing enough, the fact that others followed his lead was even worse. Peter's fear of men led him into error, followed by other Jews, and finally Barnabas. By imitating Peter, many were being led astray.

It doesn't really matter who we are, other people imitate us. There will always be someone who looks up to you and is influenced by your life. When you walk with the Lord and live a godly life, this can be a good thing. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:1, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." Be a consistent and godly example to imitate my friend, for as you follow Christ, you will lead others into all truth.

Think about this: "The world takes its notions of God from the people who say they belong to God's family."
   ~ Alexander Maclaren

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Proverbs 9 / NT - Galatians 3:1-14

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Who do you serve?

Today's Readings: OT - Proverbs 8:1-15 / NT - Galatians 1

"Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ." - Galatians 1:10
The Sunday that I was being considered for the role as pastor at my first church, a young believer asked this question: "Do you serve God, or man?" The Next year Bob Dylan wrote the song "Gotta Serve Somebody". The issue is thought provoking and life directing. As Jesus said in Matthew 6:24, "No one can serve two masters"

Paul faced quite a dilemma with the churches in Galatia. The believers had initially trusted in the finished work of Christ for their salvation, but now there were false teachers that sought their allegiance. These teachers were winsome and convincing, teaching a works salvation. They were seeking the approval of their own circle of peers and were determined to increase their followers. Paul sought the approval of the Lord alone and was simply saying, "No one can serve two masters"

There is no safer path than the one that follows the Lord alone. Do you seek the Lord's approval in every decision you make? Is His will the most important thing in your life? Serve the Lord and you will never go astray. Remember, "No one can serve two masters"

Think about this: "We put one foot on God's side and one on the side of human reasoning; then God widens the space until we either drop down in between or jump on to one side or the other." 
                                                           ~ Oswald Chambers

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Proverbs 8:16-36 / NT - Galatians 2

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Your Future...

Today's Readings: OT - Proverbs 7 / NT - 2 Corinthians 12:11-13:14

"Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test." -- 2 Corinthians 13:5-6
The following explanation is found on the SAT web site: "The SAT and SAT Subject Tests are a suite of tools designed to assess your academic readiness for college... measuring the skills required for success in the 21st century." Simply put, this is a test to discover your knowledge and skill for further study and success. For many, their future depends on the results.

Paul never took anything for granted. When he wrote to these believers in Corinth, he challenged them to test themselves. He may have offended some, but such a test is far more important than any SAT exam. This is the final test to discover your position with Christ. Is Jesus your Lord and Savior or not? For everyone, their future depends on the results.

When did you take that step of faith my friend? Was it a sincere confession of sin, repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ as your only means of salvation? Has your life been transformed by the Spirit of God living within your heart? Don't blow it off; test yourself now, because your future depends on the results.

Think about this: "I cannot believe that a man is on the road to heaven when he is habitually performing the kind of deeds that would logically indicate that he ought to be on his way to hell."
                                                       ~ A. W. Tozer

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Proverbs 8:1-15 / NT - Galatians 1

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

"Fluff" never satisfies...

Today's Readings: OT - Proverbs 6:20-35 / NT - 2 Corinthians 11:16-12:10

"I have made a fool of myself, but you drove me to it. I ought to have been commended by you, for I am not in the least inferior to the "super-apostles," even though I am nothing." -- 2 Corinthians 12:11
We live in a day when a smooth talker, pretty face and a winsome smile can win the public in a heartbeat. Political offices, leadership roles and other prestigious positions will often be awarded to those who may lack the heart and skill, but look and sound good. "Fluff" sells, but it never satisfies.

I speak today for my fellow pastors who have heart and skill to feed their flocks. But Sunday in and Sunday out the congregation reminds them of how great the "super-preachers" were that week. They will often compare my dear brothers with those that tell better stories and funnier jokes in the pulpit. There are hundreds of faithful, loving and passionate pastors across this land that should be heard with open hearts and commended with grateful words. These are the men who feed your souls. "Fluff" sells, but it never satisfies.

October has been highlighted as "Pastor Appreciation" month for a number of years. When was the last time you told your pastor how much you appreciated his messages and his care for you and your family? Unlike the "super-preachers", your pastor prays for you in the night and prepares his sermons with you on his heart. "Fluff" sells, but it never satisfies.

Think about this: "The life-giving preacher is a man of God, whose heart is ever athirst for God, whose soul is following hard after God, whose eye is single to God, and in whom by the power of God's Spirit the flesh and the world have been crucified; his ministry is like the generous flood of a life-giving river. Life-giving preaching costs the preacher much — death to self, crucifixion to the world, the travail of his own soul."
                                                                       ~ Edward McKendree Bounds

Tomorrow's Readings: OT - Proverbs 7 / NT - 2 Corinthians 12:11-13:14