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“Will He find fruit in you?”

Mark chapter 11 contains a fascinating event recorded for us. Near the end of Jesus’ time on this earth, following His triumphal entry on the back of the colt, He became angry with a tree.

Mark 11:12-14 – “On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. 13 And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.”

I used to find this passage interesting, now I find it convicting. In verse 12 we read that Jesus was hungry. Verse 13 we read that Jesus noticed a fig tree in leaf. This is important for our understanding of this passage. Fig trees are known to only produce these leaves after there is the beginnings of fruit. In other words, it looked like it had fruit, but it did not. Jesus traveled the distance because he saw the leaves, when He didn’t find fruit, He cursed the tree.

Verse 20 tells us that Jesus and His disciples passed that same tree the next day and this tree was withered down to it’s roots. You see, it wasn’t the fact that the tree wasn’t producing fruit that upset Jesus so bad. It was the fact that the tree appeared to be producing fruit when it really wasn’t. This tree, was a hypocrite.

Are we like this tree? Are you guilty of any of these things?

  • Wearing our finest clothes for Sunday worship to appear as though we respect the worship service. Only we fail to pay attention and find ourselves easily distracted once we are there.
  • Making sure you and your family wear your smiles when we are with the church to make sure everyone knows that things are “fine”. While on the inside you are all miserable.
  • Posting occasional Facebook posts or tweets that make us seem more spiritual than we are
  • Saying, “Christ is number one in my life” – but we fail to evangelize
  • Saying, “Christ is number one in my life”- but we fail to be faithful to the church that He died for

We could extend the list on and on. The only problem with going throughout life with this kind of hypocrisy is that God knows your heart (Romans 8:27). May we never be found guilty of trying to talk the talk, but not walk the walk.

It is my prayer that I will do better at not appearing to produce fruit, but that I actually produce fruit for my Savior.

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Posted by on March 26, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Am I Ready To Stand?

It has been a while since I have posted. Ok, it has been 5 months. I want to start by apologizing for not posting in a while. I would also like to thank those of you that have asked me to start writing again. 

There are many passages in scripture that I fear are often used out of their proper context. This is nothing new. Many people will quote from Jeremiah 29:11 for a graduation speech, write Phil 4:13 on the wall of their weight room, and of course, quote “judge not” from Matthew 7 while they are trying to justify their behavior. All of these passages have a great depth of value, they are simply applied incorrectly.

Why is it that we struggle with context so much when discussing Bible passages? I cannot speak for all, I can however speak for myself. I believe that the lack of context study is as a result of two things.

#1. Laziness. Just simply lacking the time, desire, and effort to read more than a few verses.

#2. Personal Bias. We see what we want to see.

Romans 14:10- Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; (ESV)

There may be some who would read this passage from Romans and focus on the initial question about judging your brother. They might say to themselves “AHA! See! You aren’t supposed to judge me!” Allow me to pose a question from my heart to yours. How different would your life look if we stopped focusing on “judging each other” or “being judged ”by someone else. And we started focusing MORE on the aspect that each one of us will stand before the judgment seat of God?

I will stand before God and give an account for issues such as:

  • Have I obeyed the gospel? (2 Thess 1:8)
  • Am I faithful in church attendance? (Hebrews 10:25)
  • Am I active in sharing the gospel? (Matthew 28:18-20)
  • Am I forgiving? (Colossians 3:13)
  • Am I merciful? (Luke 6:36)
  • Am I benevolent? (Matthew 25:31-46)
  • Am I a hard worker? (Ecclesiastes 9:10)
  • Am I living a life of purity? (1 John 3:3)
  • Am I a good father? (Deut 6, Ephesians 6:4)
  • Am I a good husband? (Colossians 3:19)
  • Am I growing in my faith? (Hebrews 5:12)
  • Am I placing God above all else? (Matthew 6:33)

These and many others, I will have to give an account to my God on that day. How different would our lives look today if we all took time to pause and ask ourselves (not think about that one person in the auditorium that really needs to hear this lesson, no, ask yourself) am I ready to face the judgment seat of God?

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

“Are You at Peace?”

It is October. This means that I have been spending a few hours each week doing something that I absolutely love. Deer hunting. I go out to my stand roughly an hour and a half before the sunrise. I sit, and I wait. Hoping that I will be able to see my game. Thus far, I have not had any luck. However, I am confident that I will before the season is over with.

As much as I love hunting, there is one aspect of hunting that I hate. I hate that no matter how much scouting, prep work, and masterful planning I put into hunting, I am not guaranteed to see anything. Sure there are many things you can do to increase your chances, but there are no guarantees.

I wonder how many people are going throughout their lives without having the peace that comes with eternal guarantees. I am talking about that individual who knows that there is “something” that they need to do to make their life right with God, but they do not know what that “something” is. I am talking about that person who has been faithful to the church all their life, yet still feel as though they are missing something. I am talking about that individual that seems to continually beat themselves up for their past mistakes, never allowing them to move forward.

One of my favorite verses in all of scripture is found in 1 John 5:13- I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. (ESV) Emphasis mine.

What a tremendous comfort! We have the necessary things recorded for us in scripture to assure us of our salvation. We don’t have to cross our fingers and hope that we will “end up in heaven.” Because of Jesus, because of the Word, we can KNOW that we will be in heaven.

Are you someone that has been struggling with doubt? I would love to visit with you about your doubt so that you can find the incredible peace that comes with being sure of your salvation.  

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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“Shelter Me, Lord”

Last night we experienced a very heavy storm at our house. I was extremely thankful for the rain. My children however, were not nearly as appreciative. It was time for bed, and I began turning down the covers. Right on cue, my daughter walked in the room and said, “Can you sleep with me daddy? I’m scared.”

I told her that the storm was not going to hurt her, and she needed to go back to bed. After she left the great philosopher (my wife) had something to say. She reminded me that my children will not always be little. They will not always be scared of these storms, and they definitely will not always want their dad to sleep with them and hold them. I should take advantage of these opportunities when I have them.

I don’t need to tell you that I listened to her. As I was holding my daughter while she slept, several thoughts came to my mind.

  • She is so beautiful
  • She is so innocent
  • My back hurts laying on this bed
  • I wish I could hold her and protect her from every storm she will face
  • I hope she is always “daddy’s girl”
  • My back really hurts, am I laying on a toy?

In the midst of all of my ramblings inside of my mind, I found peace. I know that my children are growing up. I know that I cannot protect them from every storm of life. I know that I cannot keep them from sin. I know that I cannot provide them with everything that they will ever need. However, I know that God can.

Psalm 91:1-2-He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say [1] to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

“Father, thank you for being a perfect Father. Thank you for providing a refuge and a safe place for your children. Help me to remember that I am not perfect, and my children desperately need to see me leaning on you. In Jesus name, amen. “

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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“Your god Has Fallen and He Can’t Get Up”

darkness

In the late 1980’s the phrase “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” became famous based on TV commercials. These commercials were for elderly people who lived alone and needed a “lifeline” in case they fell while they were home and no one was there to help pick them up. Smart idea.

     Does that phrase apply to your god?

1 Samuel 5:1-4 – When the Philistines captured the ark of God, they brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. 2 Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it into the house of Dagon and set it up beside Dagon. 3 And when the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the Lord. So they took Dagon and put him back in his place. 4 But when they rose early on the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the Lord, and the head of Dagon and both his hands were lying cut off on the threshold. Only the trunk of Dagon was left to him. (ESV)

Notice this scene. The Philistines felt like they were on top of the world. They captured the ark and brought it into their camp. Obviously not paying any more respect to God than they did their idols they stuck the ark in the house of Dagon. Dagon was a false god of the Philistines. In this culture it was common practice when a people was defeated in battle the victors would often take their idols from them. This was a way of completely defeating them.

Imagine being one of these proud Philistines walking into the house of Dagon the next day to get a glimpse of your new trophy (the ark of God) only to find your god fallen to the ground. What would you do? Surely you would realize that this “god” is certainly no “God” and you would move on about your life. This is not what happened. The people “put him back in his place”. Only to arrive the next day to find the same scene, only this time Dagon was broken.

This seems silly, comical even. How could someone “prop up” their god and still continue to believe in him?

Probably very similar to:

  • Spending years working on your financial portfolio knowing that when you hit “that number” you will have peace in your life. Achieving that number, still having a void, so raising the number and trying again.
  • Assuring ourselves that everything will be better once we climb a little higher up the job ladder. I know the last promotion didn’t really help, but maybe the next one will.
  • Bouncing from relationship to relationship knowing that the next one will be the one that makes everything “right”.
  • Turning to that vice (alcohol, tobacco, drugs, sex, etc.) because we need to feel good. I know it didn’t last long last time, but maybe this time will be different.

Does this hit closer to home? Far too many times we are guilty of “propping up our god”. When the solution to our life is to turn our life over to the one, true God who never falls.

Hebrews 6:19-20- We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20 where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. (ESV)

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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“The Deadliest Disease Known To Man”

Have you ever heard of Ebola? Of course you have. If you haven’t… You should really read the newspaper, watch the news, buy a computer, or socialize with other people once in a while. Are you tired of hearing about Ebola? You are not alone.

If you are like me, you are tired of hearing about it. Please do not misunderstand me. I do not mean “tired” in the sense that I do not care, and I want to move on. I mean it in the sense that it is scary stuff, and I don’t like talking about it or thinking about it.

Here are some recent statistics put out by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). This shows the number of deaths annually due to each disease:

  • Heart disease: 596,577
  • Cancer: 576,691
  • Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 142,943
  • Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 128,932
  • Alzheimer’s disease: 84,974
  • Diabetes: 73,831
  • Influenza and Pneumonia: 53,826
  • Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 45,591
  • Intentional self-harm (suicide): 39,518

Ebola is also a terrifying disease. No, it is not in the “top” of the worst. However that does not mean that it won’t climb its way up that ladder.

There is one thing that bothers me greatly. All of the above diseases are scary. My family has been affected by many of them in one way or another. However, the CDC has no information on their website regarding the single most deadly disease in the history of the universe. Sin.

Romans 3:23- “For all have sinned, all fall short of the glory of God”

I watch the news, it disturbs me. I see the reaction of individuals who believe they might be near an area where the possibility of exposure is high. They wear masks, they go to great lengths to keep this terrible disease from them. I cannot blame them.

What would our world (what would your world) look like if we went to extreme lengths to keep sin out of our lives? How would it change our perspective on life if we started treating spiritual illness with more fervor than we do physical illness?

Matthew 10:28- And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell

What are we doing today to protect our spiritual health and fitness? Ebola is scary. Sin is worse.

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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“The Good News About ISIS”

I know you have seen the news. I know you have read the paper, and read the internet articles. ISIS is scary. If you are like me, it breaks your heart a little more when you hear of another act of violence. It breaks your heart even more when you realize that you are becoming (a little bit) numb to the news. What a sad situation it is that it is now normal to read of these acts of violence.

Can I please share some good news with you about ISIS?

  1. ISIS will fail.

Acts 5:34-39- But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law, respected by all the people, stood up in the Council and gave orders to put the men outside for a short time. 35 And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. 36 For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. But he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. 37 After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census and drew away some people after him; he too perished, and all those who followed him were scattered. 38 So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.”

In this text we see that some disciples were in some hot water because of their faithful preaching. Many wanted to kill them. Then a wise council member reminded all who would hear him that any movement that is brought about by men will fail.

This does not mean that they won’t cause damage, and that they won’t strike fear in our hearts. What is does mean is that they will, eventually, be defeated.

  1. ISIS cannot take away our hope.

Just this morning, news broke about another murder. This time it wasn’t on foreign soil. It was in Oklahoma. A woman was beheaded, and the story is that the offender was a recent convert to Islam. Whether this proves to be true or not is not the point. The point is this: I watched as instantly many members of the church were commenting on news stories with comments of despair.

Please do not misunderstand me. I am not in any way trying to belittle this tragic situation. What I am trying to gently remind us (and myself) is that the evil actions of this group or any individual cannot rob me of my hope. Phil 4:7 talks about the peace which surpasses all understanding. In the face of such evil, let us not forget the God that we serve.

  1. ISIS cannot keep me from talking to God.

No matter how great the evil, our God is greater. I have the ability (as do you) to talk to my heavenly Father. Too often I am guilty of worrying, complaining, and talking with others who are worrying and complaining. when what I need to be doing is getting on my knees and talking to the only One who can make a difference.

  • Let us pray for peace
  • Let us pray for God to soften their hearts
  • Let us pray that God strengthen us, so that the love of Christ shines
  • Let us pray for our leaders, that God will guide them
  • Let us pray for our children. Praying that they will place their faith in God, and that when they look at our faith, they will see an example.
 
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Posted by on September 26, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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