Thursday, October 31, 2019


               When it comes to spiritual matters, what you don't know can hurt you. Hosea 4:6  My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge;

 Knowing what you believe and why you believe it is the greatest protection from attacks on your faith. The difference between Knowing God vs knowing about God can be the difference in questioning your faith or standing firm when skeptics cast doubt on the character of God. If you only know what others have told you about God, you may run into trouble.

         Many years ago, when I pastored a church in Florida, I had a home office and in my home office was a very ornate bong.  Someone coming for counseling could have easily left and told people, "hey, that pastor has a bong in his office."  This would have been true, but the reaction to this news would certainly have varied based on the level of intimacy I had with the person who heard about it.

          For instance, my wife, or someone who knew me and the actual reason the bong was in my office might have responded, "yeah, isn't that cool."  Someone who knew me well but didn't know why the bong was in my office would hopefully have given me the benefit of the doubt and assumed there was a perfectly good reason or even thought the person reporting this was somehow mistaken. Hopefully, my character would speak for itself.  

            But, what if someone did not really know me well at all?  What if someone had only a passing acquaintance with me and heard I had a bong in my office?  Naturally, this person would assume the worst.  I would be tainted and untrustworthy to the person, whose only knowledge of me is what they had heard.  

             As it turns out, the bong was actually a hookah pipe from Yemen and was used as a ministry tool by American missionaries sharing the Gospel with Muslims. It was given to me as a gift by a missionary to Yemen.  Very innocent, yet what someone believed about me owning a bong would be determined greatly by how well they knew me.

              The same thing goes for God, obviously, on a much grander scale.  If your knowledge of God and the Bible comes from a weekly regurgitation on Sunday morning, you are in great danger of falling into error.  If you are a believer in Christ, why would you be satisfied with merely knowing about God when you can actually know God?

                 If you have any kind of social media presence and you post or tweet about your faith, chances are you have been challenged, trolled or otherwise engaged by atheists or skeptics.  Many atheists claim go be former believers who have been enlightened to truth.  It does not take long for skeptics to discover if you have actually studied the Bible for yourself or if you only know what you have been told about the Bible, and once they  smell blood in the water, they go for the big attack.

             Our spiritual lives cannot be sustained by an hour or two of church each week.  What if you only ate physical food for an hour each week? What kind of shape do you think you would be in?  Imagine the health issues brought on by malnourishment, imagine the lack of energy and strength.  Our spiritual lives are no different. If you only supply spiritual needs for one hour each week you are spiritually starved. 

              Are you prepared to answer skeptics when they accuse your Father of genocide?  Are you prepared to stand firm when pseudo science is presented as "evidence" against a literal 6 day creation?  Are you prepared to explain the difference between living by the Law or living in grace when challenged?  How do you handle the question, "doesn't the Bible say it is a sin to get tattoos?"

              These are all arguments skeptics will use to derail your faith.  How you stand up to attack will be determined by how well you know God and His Word.  
                 2 Timothy 3:16  All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 

               Do you have a high enough view of scripture?  Is the Bible really your final authority on matters of faith and practice?  What happens when your lifestyle conflicts with the clear teaching of scripture, do you repent, do you ignore the truth or do you somehow attempt to justify your behavior through rationalization? 

                There is only one way to know God: spending time with Him.  The amount of time you intentionally dedicate to prayer, Bible study and worship will determine how well you know the Father.  "But I don't have time" is a lame excuse.  Let me ask you this, when was the last time you were so busy you missed dinner?  When was the last time you missed your favorite TV show because you were too busy?

                Chances are, you do not miss many dinners for lack of time.  Why, because dinner is important to you, because it is something you deem necessary.  When you claim to not have time to invest in your spiritual life, you are really saying, "my spiritual life is not really that important." We schedule what is important.

              If you are not where you need to be spiritually, allow me to encourage you to develop a healthy daily, time of prayer, Bible study and worship.  Allow me to encourage you to get to know the Savior you claim to follow.  It is very difficult to follow someone whom you cannot recognize.  

                  If your spiritual life is vibrant, allow me to encourage you to encourage others. Be an example and a mentor to those who are newer to the faith and spiritually immature. 1 Thessalonians 5:14  And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 

                 Scripture tells us we will reap what we sow.  Are you sowing to the Spirit, if not, you cannot reap the Fruit of the Spirit. Scripture also says those who sow to the wind will reap the whirlwind.  Do not allow the enemy to wreck your faith because you failed to spend time with the Father.  Do not allow your lack of knowledge, readily available and very accessible knowledge, lead to your destruction.

                 When you read, pray, worship and fellowship with other believers, you will grow spiritually and be equipped to stand up to attacks on your faith.  By knowing God and His word you will recognize error when it is presented. There is no reason for any of us to be destroyed for lack of knowledge.

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019


     "What is truth?"  this question was famously asked by Pontius Pilate as he questioned Jesus.  Today, we are told each of us has our own truth, validating perception, no matter how flawed.  It has been said, "there is no absolute truth," to which I ask, "absolutely?"  

       Have you ever known someone who responded negatively to you based on what they expected of you, rather than anything you actually said or did?  This can be very frustrating.  How we perceive a situation may not be reality and often our perceptions are formed before we have an adequate amount of information.  

           Did you know, scientific misperception led to some pretty bizarre and comical conclusions?  Up until the 19th century, the scientific community believed, and taught, living things spontaneously generated from inanimate matter.  For instance, it was believed maggots spontaneously grew in rotten meat.  Even Aristotle, as brilliant as he was thought to be, declared some animals were the product of spontaneous generation. It was not until 1859 the idea of spontaneous generation was debunked once and for all.

     While the idea of science getting it so wrong for lack of understanding may be comical, what is not so funny is misperceiving spiritual things.  Misperceiving the spiritual can have eternal consequences.  

      Many present when Jesus was arrested and put to death did not understand the purpose behind all they had just witnessed.  Christ's followers felt abandoned, afraid and probably a little foolish for following after one who promised so much and delivered, as they perceived, nothing.  Even after the resurrection, some were dejected, discouraged and confused. Two such men decided to leave Jerusalem and head to the town of Emmaus, probably to reassess their lives and figure out what to do next.

            The account of these two men is found in Luke 24:13-35.  What follows demonstrates how perception of events outside the context of God is often flawed and bad decisions often follow misperceptions.  

              Luke 24:13-16  That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 

             Theses two men decided to leave Jerusalem and head to a neighboring town.  Most likely, they were very discouraged, confused and afraid. Little did they know, Jesus was with them. It appears, these men did not seek God on their decision to leave Jerusalem, as we will see, they were not meant to flee.

               Many times, life happens and takes us by surprise or we become discouraged by a turn of events we were not quite expecting. These are times we may feel alienated or even abandoned by God.  The lesson in this passage:  God is right there beside us, every step of the way, whether we sense His presence or not. When God promises to never leave us nor forsake us, He means it.  When the Psalmist wrote, "yea I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me," he is not saying this because he feels overwhelmed by the presence of God, but, rather, because he trusts God to be there as promised. The very nature of the valley of the shadow of death is a place of darkness and impending doom. 

         Luke 24:17-24  And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” 

                I wonder if Jesus was just a little amused as he listened to Cleopas explain why he and his friend were so dejected. As these men walked with Jesus, they explained why they were upset.  Even though they did not realize it, they were speaking to the One who had the answers, the One who understood the big picture.

              How often do we struggle on our own, never seeking answers from God, who knows all.  Instead, we are often content with discontent, trying to figure things out on our own.  God actually wants to hear from us as any loving parent would.     

                   Luke 24:25-27  And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?  And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.                          

                Jesus, perhaps a wee bit frustrated, patiently explains to these two men how everything they just related was tied to scripture and happened according to God's plan.  Jesus revealed prophecies concerning Himself, undoubtedly starting with Genesis 3:15 and teaching through the writing of the prophets.  The entire Bible is the story of God's redeeming love for a creation which rebelled against Him.  Jesus showed these men, He was always plan A and there never was a plan B.

              Often, we attempt to reason situations and circumstances according to human logic, forgetting there is a spiritual component to everything we experience. Discouragement, disillusionment and dejection are all by products of viewing our circumstances from a purely human perspective.  Like Cleopas and his companion on the road, until we realize a sovereign God is, and always has been, at work behind the scenes, we are in danger of giving in to hopelessness.  Romans 8:28 has almost become cliched in Christian circles, however, we cannot forget the truth found in it: All things work together for good, for them that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.  

               Mick Jagger told us, "you can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need."  Mick Jagger did not understand the sovereignty of a loving God who always gives us what we need, even when we perceive the bottom has fallen out.             
            The wisdom of man cannot fathom the depth of the sovereignty of God.  God allows us to exercise unlimited free will and still manages to tie all things together in order to accomplish His will. The two men perceived Jesus had failed and fled Jerusalem.  It was revealed to them the necessity of the Messiah's death for the salvation of mankind. Once they had a heavenly perspective everything suddenly made sense.

            Luke 24:28-33  So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther,  but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them.  And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem.

                 Once these two men realized they were acting on faulty perception, they immediately reversed course and headed back to Jerusalem.  If we operate on faulty assumptions, our behavior will be counterproductive.  Once we see things from a heavenly perspective, our behavior should follow our faith.  Behavior based on bad perception is often counterproductive and, sometimes, self destructive.  When all hope is lost, what matters anymore?  

                 It is paramount to our survival, spiritual and even physical, to understand God is intricately involved in every aspect of our lives, whether we are aware of His presence or not.  Cling to His promises, remember His past faithfulness and stay rooted in scripture.  Ask God to reveal His perspective in seemingly hopeless situations and most importantly, keep your eyes on Him and not your circumstances.

Now, go live as Christ... and give the devil hell!