Sunday, February 28, 2010

Are You The Foolish Prince?

Ezekiel 28:1-8 The word of the LORD came again to me, saying, “Son of man, say to the leader of Tyre, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, because your heart is lifted up and you have said, ‘I am a god, I sit in the seat of gods. In the heart of the seas’; yet you are a man and not God, although you make your heart like the heart of God— Behold, you are wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that is a match for you. “By your wisdom and understanding you have acquired riches for yourself, and have acquired gold and silver for your treasuries. “By your great wisdom, by your trade, you have increased your riches and your heart is lifted up because of your riches— therefore thus says the Lord GOD, ‘Because you have made your heart like the heart of God, therefore, behold, I will bring strangers upon you; the most ruthless of the nations, and they will draw their swords against the beauty of your wisdom, and defile your splendor. ‘They will bring you down to the pit, and you will die the death of those who are slain in the heart of the seas.

There will always be obvious comparisons to the Babylon-like empires that preceded America … since America is in many ways clearly Babylon or the Roman empire of our day, and the nature of man is the same now as it was in ancient times. From those comparisons we can learn much, but please do not misunderstand, although I am a conservative politically, I am very concerned about America’s leadership regardless of the party in power. We must pray that God will rise up a leader worthy of the position that God has given America in the world. At present, I have no idea who that person might be. Any Suggestions?

Ethbaal or Ithobal was the Prince of Tyre. He had all of the qualities that if here today, would likely lead most of us to conclude that he would be the ideal presidential candidate. As noted previously, Tyre had become the trading partner of the world. Under Prince Ithobal’s leadership Tyre ruled the seas and was able to stand when other mighty nations such as Israel fell. Much of his success was a result of his management and leadership skills and his overall wisdom. But the natural barrier provided by the sea and the fact that Tyre had a superior navy were surely more important than his personal knowledge and wisdom. Obviously, strengths lacking in one's adversary have little to do with his personal strength but men's pride will quite often lead them as leaders to take these type of things personally. One of our greatest dangers is to take our success personally rather than to give the glory to the all knowing and all powerful God, where it belongs. For example, America's control of the atomic bomb made us no wiser than the Japanese or Hitler, but it gave us enormous power. Can you imagine what would have happened if Truman had taken that power personally and attributed it to himself ... as Hitler would have most likely done? Certainly men can meet and plan and prepare and build their defenses, but in the end only the all knowing and all powerful God and those standing with Him will stand victorious. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Romans 8:30-31

Our human wisdom is foolishness before God. Proverbs 21:30-31 "There is no wisdom and no understanding And no counsel against the LORD." ... "The horse is prepared for the day of battle, But victory belongs to the LORD." Proverbs 21:31 And this is the problem for this most successful prince. He took his success personally. Who might we point to in today’s world that faces this same danger? This prince was so proud that he actually said of himself ”because your heart is lifted up and you have said, ‘I am a god, I sit in the seat of gods.” He actually called for his people worship him. I know this sounds absurd, but there are many in America who might look upon our current president reverentially and there are other world and spiritual leaders who also might receive such false adulation, but for a leader to see himself as god is serious delusion. But wait a minute, what about you? You might never have thought about it but each of us is in danger of falling into this same trap. All we need is a measure of success and we start to take it personally. We don’t need to be Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, or Barach Obama, to be vulnerable here. It might be your ability to talk, or to write or sing or play the piano or your computer skills, or sports prowess, or knowledge or wisdom in this, that, or the other thing. All are gifts of God, in which we increase our ability through practice and training, and then before you know it, friends and associates heap praise on us and pretty soon we are taking it personally ... rather than thanking the Lord for his blessings. We might not get the point where we think we are God, but it is a smooth transition to the point where we stand on the throne of our life ... saying, "look at me, aren't I wonderful?"

Well, we all know the result. “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18 … and Jesus said, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Lk. 16:14 ... So why do we keep falling into this trap? Because, we haven’t “renewed our mind” and we are not “taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” We will never be there completely until we walk with Christ in heaven but we can identify the areas where we are weak and train our heart and mind to bring the counteracting scripture up against the attacks of our enemy who would use pride of life to bring us down.

Are you the foolish Prince?
Are you the Prince of you own private kingdom of Tyre?

We can live victoriously with Christ moment by moment … day by day.

Identify areas where you are vulnerable
Memorize scripture that help overcome prideful ways
Pray for the Lords protection and guidance

Proverbs 16: 2-4 All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord. Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed. The Lord works out everything for his own ends—even the wicked for a day of disaster.
God Bless You My Friend, Bob

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sure Path To Destruction

Ezekiel 28:1-8 The word of the LORD came again to me, saying, “Son of man, say to the leader of Tyre, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, because your heart is lifted up and you have said, ‘I am a god, I sit in the seat of gods. In the heart of the seas’; yet you are a man and not God, although you make your heart like the heart of God— Behold, you are wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that is a match for you. “By your wisdom and understanding you have acquired riches for yourself, and have acquired gold and silver for your treasuries. “By your great wisdom, by your trade, you have increased your riches and your heart is lifted up because of your riches— therefore thus says the Lord GOD, ‘Because you have made your heart like the heart of God, therefore, behold, I will bring strangers upon you; the most ruthless of the nations, and they will draw their swords against the beauty of your wisdom, and defile your splendor. ‘They will bring you down to the pit, and you will die the death of those who are slain in the heart of the seas.

In my last post, we looked at the fall of mighty Tyre.
Here we will explore the reasons for the fall and look for parallels in this prophecy that apply in our lives and our world today. Please read the previous post and all of Ezekiel chapter 28 and pray that God will reveal to you lessons here that will apply to you personally. This chapter is so important to every one of us.

Tyre and Jerusalem were friendly neighbors and trading competitors.
There was no apparent animosity but the king of Tyre took delight in the fall of Jerusalem with these comments “Aha, she is broken, broken to pieces, that was the gates of the people, to whom there was a great resort and where there was a general rendezvous of all nations, some upon one account and some upon another, and I shall get by it; all the wealth, power, and interest, which Jerusalem had, it is hoped, shall be turned to Tyre, and so now that she is laid waste, Tyre shall be replenished.” Isn’t this so much like what we see in American politics and business today. That is because it is a direct result of the reality of man’s fallen nature. Covetousness and pride come to men as naturally as drinking water. If a business falls, it is common for competitors to have a quick meeting to plot how they can reap benefit from others misfortune. In American politics, this scenario is being played out right now. The Democrats came into power and rather than say to themselves, “how can we work together with the losers to bring about the best for the benefit of all of the people,” instead got prideful and ignored and shut out the Republicans from the discussion and tried to force their plans on America without discussion or debate, contrary to campaign rhetoric. Even this week, Obama's pride and arrogance was evident as he spoke down to John McCain, Lamar Alexander and others in the sham call a healthcare summit. Politics as usual rather than "Change we can believe in." As a result, nothing has been accomplished and quite likely the Democrats will lose power in the coming elections. I can already sense the opposition basking in the glory of this potential development. If that happens, the danger is that the Republicans will then repeat the same prideful process and the cycle will continue to repeat until America ultimately falls from within. Our leaders must represent all of the people regardless of party, or we will all suffer the consequences. Luke 11:17 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall."

A key issue here was greed. Tyre was already one of the wealthiest cities in the world but enough was never enough. They wanted everything that Israel had as well. I am convinced that a key reason that God has continued to bless America is because we have never been a conquering nation as has been the case with all previous world powers. Although some would point out that we attacked Afghanistan and Iraq, but our aim has never been to capture those nations but rather was in response to evil. There is no intent to prosper by these countries capture or downfall … the fact is that in the end, we will help rebuild and come home. Hopefully … soon. If America was a conquering nation, our true colors would have been apparent during World War 2, and would have resulted with our capture of many nations and their resources. From a human perspective, there is a strong case to be made that conquest for the good of the world (if that is possible) especially in the Middle East, would not have been all that bad. Another key point leading to God's blessings, is that the influence of God's word has been foundational from our country's earliest days and as a result, America has been greatly blessed. Those initial Biblical seeds are planted within the heart of all Americans, regardless of religious beliefs. And as a result, America is the most charitable and giving nation in the history of the world.

This issue is even more important when the discussion is about the nation of Israel. When Tyre took delight in the fall of Jerusalem, God says, "Behold, I am against thee O Tyrus! And let not her expect to prosper long if God be against her." Well, this is where America stands today. Israel is surrounded by enemies who have vowed to “wipe Israel off the face of the earth” Nuclear weapons are nearly in the hands of her enemies and America is playing nice with those enemies. The Bible is clear God will destroy Israel’s enemies. Israel will prevail, and Israel’s allies will receive God’s favor. America must stand by Israel or we will fall with her enemies.

There is much more here, so we will revisit in the next post.

Question to consider:

How do you react to the misfortune of others?
Do you look for ways to benefit from others misfortune or do you offer words of encouragement?
What can America do to break the destructive political cycle?
What one step can you take to make life better in someone else’s world today?
What change should America make to be the country God wants it to be?

Do you have Ideas? Let’s start talking about them by making comments below.

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

God Bless You My Friend, Bob

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Is There Any God Besides Me?

Isaiah 44: 7-8 Who is like Me? Let him proclaim and declare it; Yes, let him recount it to Me in order, From the time that I established the ancient nation. And let them declare to them the things that are coming And the events that are going to take place. Do not tremble and do not be afraid; Have I not long since announced it to you and declared it? And you are My witnesses.
Is there any God besides Me, Or is there any other Rock? I know of none.”
Isaiah 46: 9-10 “Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure"

In our world today, there is a major push to force religions other than Christianity to the front. Tolerance and inclusiveness are the themes of the day. In fact, some would want us to believe that all religions are equal and worthy of respect, except for Christianity. Should we as Christians give respect to religions that we know are leading the world away from God? In Isaiah above, God's answer to this question is clear: NO. But for certain on the other hand, we should always respect all people regardless of religion.

It has been twenty nine years ago now since I followed the advice of a respected friend and by faith asked Jesus to forgive me and to be the Lord of my life. My father had died when I was only thirteen years old and as a result, my childhood came to an early end, and I was for the most part; free to run my own life. The years that followed were the wild and crazy sixties and to say that I raised hell is putting it mildly. I made all of the wrong decisions and unfortunately always got away with it. At age nineteen and with no direction, I married my wife Cheryl. That was forty three years ago. Those first twelve years were miserable. I had tremendous success in sales though and through a timely investment plan, I was financially independent at age thirty. At that point, I thought that I was in total control of my own world, with a staff of five hundred people and thirty five rental homes. But Cheryl and I were both selfish and foolish children who had never grown up, and our daughter Shannon was the only thing that was holding our marriage together. And then my whole world changed as the economy shifted and my business started losing substantial dollars monthly. The real estate crash of 1980-82 saw interest rates go up to as high as 20% and I found myself with a negative net worth of over one million dollars and it was getting worse daily.

It was at that point, that a friend named Zig Ziglar challenged me to trust my life to Christ. I was reading a book that he had given me at a weekend seminar. I had never read the Bible and seldom attended church. When I did go to church, I couldn’t wait to get out the front door. Well, when I told Cheryl that I had become a Christian, she was less than impressed. But after only a few months had gone by, she could see that I had changed dramatically. And as a result, she read the same book also and became a Christian. Both of us had no Bible knowledge and accepted Christ into our lives by faith. From that point on I received excellent teaching from Dr. Harold Sala; my sister Charlene; and Chuck Swindoll, my first pastor.

So how do I know the Bible is Truth if my decision was only based upon uneducated faith? Well, God has shown me over and over during the past twenty nine years, in many different ways that the Bible is absolute TRUTH. But to illustrate my case, I will only point to one reason here. I came to understand these facts through reading and sound teaching over many years. The Bible is filled with hundreds of fulfilled prophecies. An engineer skeptic friend of mine told me his story of how he set out to prove the bible wrong. But when he began cross referencing the prophesies in Isaiah with the fulfillments in the New Testament ... the evidence was too compelling to ignore. The evidence in front of him demanded a verdict.

Now first let’s understand the criteria for an Old Testament prophet. Unlike the fortunetellers of our day, Biblical prophets predictions needed to turn out to be one hundred percent correct. Otherwise, they were considered a false prophet. .Let’s discuss one such prophesy here. The prophet Ezekiel predicted the following in Ezekiel Chapters 26-27:

That the magnificent Phoenician city of Tyre would be leveled to dust
That the invaders would first take the “daughter cities of Tyre”
And later would take Tyre itself
That many nations would come against the city
That Tyre itself would be thrown into the sea
That the actual site of the city would be left flat and scraped as clean as a rock,
That where Tyre once had stood fishermen would spread their nets
That the city of Tyre would never be rebuilt

Why were these predictions of Ezekiel so ridiculous during his day? Well we need to look at some facts about Tyre to better understand. Tyre was literally the seaport of the known world. Tyre was the most prosperous city on earth. They dealt in ivory, wheat, honey, oil, precious stones and gold and silver. Carthage was a mere colony of Tyre and under the leadership of Hannibal, Carthage almost conquered Rome. Tyre’s walled city was well fortified by land and Tyre ruled the seas. So even far greater armies were foolish to try to invade Tyre. After a five year siege the massive fortresses and walls surrounding Tyre were impregnable and the fierce and relentless Assyrian warriors finally gave up. Tyre’s reign as the most prosperous city in the world lasted from 1100 to 573 BC and their leader's pride and arrogance grew. Then in 585 BC, the mighty Babylonians took the “sister cities” as predicted. For months Nebuchadnezzar attacked Tyre until they broke through the walls and burned the huge city to the ground. What was once the most beautiful city in the world was now a heap of rubble. But the story is not over yet, the people of Tyre escaped to an island a half mile off shore … and from this position walled by water combined with their undefeatable navy to defend it, Tyre continued to defy the Babylonians for 13 years. In 572, Nebuchadnezzar realized that he could not win and signed a truce and as a result only a part of the prophecy was fulfilled. Remember, Biblical prophesies must be 100% correct to be accepted as the word of the omniscient, almighty God. Tyre then built walls 150 feet high all around their island stronghold paradise and continued to rule the seas and world commerce for an additional 240 years.

In 332 BC Alexander the Great was on his quest to conquer the world. After beating the Persian Army and on his way to attack Egypt, Alexander was not willing to disregard Tyre which had no ambitions in the war on the ground. Since his navy was no match for Tyre, Alexander decided to build a causeway from the mainland to the island of Tyre. Alexander took the rubble left behind centuries before from the old city of Tyre. By the time the causeway was completed, Alexander’s men had scraped up the very dust of the old city and thrown it into the sea. Alexander’s men made giant shields and twenty story high mobile towers with drawbridges that fell over the huge 150 foot high walls of Tyre. So Mighty Tyre which had reigned as a world power for over 768 years, the trader of the world finally fell to Alexander when his army took the city by storm. And as the centuries continued, the sea washed sand onto the causeway transforming it into a peninsula ... "where fishermen cast their nets". Nebachanezzer and Alexander unwittingly and unknowingly fulfilled Ezekiel’s ancient prophecy.

What are the odds of this multi-faceted prophesy being fulfilled? Mathematician Peter Stoner concluded that the odds of this prophecy coming true by chance were 75000 to 1. This is only one prophecy you say ... not impossible? But the Old Testament has hundreds of similarly fulfilled prophecies. Stoner calculates the odds there at 5.76x10/59. From a human perspective, these odds are beyond our understanding. But I will try to come up with a Biblical comparison that fits here; "as far as the east is from the west". With the God of the Bible there are no mistakes. Only the creator knows the beginning and the end and everything in between at any moment in time.

So since I have hundreds more fulfilled prophesies just like this one, is there any wonder that I am confident that God’s word is truth? Maybe you can now also understand why ... that although, I am sensitive to the religious rights of others; when my God says there is only one God, and all others are false gods ... I am not about to give those religions and their gods any validity, in my mind. All religions and all gods are not equal and do not lead to the same place.

For further reading:
"Exploring The Future" by John Phillips Thomas Nelson 1978
Ezekiel Chapters 26-27

John 14:5-6 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?”
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

God Bless You My Friend
Bob West

Monday, February 15, 2010

Abide Above ...

1 John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
Mathew 7:1-2 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
2 Corinthians 5:14-16 For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh …

"A young preacher was called out of a life of sin to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. While in the pulpit one day, he received a note in which someone had written all his past sins. In addition it read, "Aren't you ashamed of yourself? And you're up there telling people to get right with God!" Do you know what the young preacher did? He read that note, bowed his head in prayer, stood up and said, "Ladies and gentleman I have received a note, and here is what it says." Then, in front of that whole crowd, he read every one of those sins. Then he said this: "Yes, I am ashamed of myself, but I am not ashamed of my Savior!" From “Past Sins by Adrian Rogers” … thanks to the Old Geezer.

Why is it that so many of us have a hard time confessing our sins like the preacher easily did. Unlike the preacher, we only need to confess them to the Lord and ask for his forgiveness, not the whole congregation. His promises to us are unconditional and absolute. Our sins past present and future are forgiven in Christ. Unfortunately, many choose to go ahead and do whatever they wish and assume they will be forgiven anyway. But that is foolishness, because God will not be mocked. We will suffer consequences here and now and into eternity. 1 Corinthians 3: 15-17 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are. Christians will suffer loss for doing whatever they wish during the remainder of their life here on earth. As noted previously, over ninety percent of Christians surveyed admit that they are carnal Christians. How ignorant can they be to allow this to continue without confessing to God and obtaining his forgiveness?

And then there is another group of Christians like the person in the story above, who handed the pastor the note, and who often go through life judging others and “recognizing others according to the flesh.” Think about it, are you guilty of judging others? No …you say? But wait, are you holding something against anyone? Have you gossiped about anyone? Have you said things about others that were unloving? Do you have bitterness towards someone? Have you sinned and gotten away with it and not asked God for forgiveness? Are you envious of anyone? Have you wronged someone and not asked for their forgiveness? Are you guilty of not even paying attention to what Jesus wants you to do and who he wants you to be … so that you can have a false positive feeling about yourself and your walk with Christ? Is there anything that you know Christ would advise you to do if you were talking to Him today that you just choose not to do? Do you have any sins of omission?

Wow ... this is heavy, and I assure you that my intent here is not to put you on a guilt trip.
But, the intent is to cause everyone to do a self analysis. Some would say, Bob you are being negative here. If true, I am in good company with Jesus, Paul and James.To be a biblically correct encourager is not to tell people what you think they want to hear, but rather what you think God would want them to hear. Many believers go through their whole lives judging others based on who they perceive them to be or who they knew them to be sometime in the past and then they treat them accordingly … and this is sin. This is the type of sin Jesus despises the most as demonstrated by his confrontations of the Pharisees. Jesus wants us to be this person: "Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh." The encouragement for you and me here, can come in the same way it has come to the pastor in the story above. Whatever it is that you are hiding from; or whatever you are bitterly holding onto, confess it to Christ. He will forgive you and cleanse you "white as snow" and you can enter into his rest ... living above the cares, worries, anger, and evil that are so prevalent in this world. We truly can Abide Above … here and now.

What are some past or current sins in your life that are holding you back from fully proclaiming God's power to others?
Confess them and bury them in His sea of forgetfulness.

Psalm 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

John 15: 11-12 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

John 16:33 These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.
God Bless You My Friends, Bob

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Law of Christ

John 15: 9-12 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you

Mathew 5:12 “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Romans 13: 8-10 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

It’s Saturday morning and Alex the gardener just woke me up with the sound of the lawn mower buzzing by my window, and then it went off, and then back on, and then off again. Two hours later, Cheryl came inside and told that me she was on her way to Home Depot. What for? I asked. “Alex needs a new spark plug for his mower” she replied. Uh oh, I thought. It was only a few months before that I had found Alex standing in the parking lot of McDonalds next to a truck load of gardening equipment. I was looking for workers to work on putting down my new stone patio, and had stopped to ask a stranger for directions. “I can help you” Alex said, “let me follow you home and give you a bid.” Reluctantly, I agreed. When we got to my house, Alex was very enthusiastic about what he could do to make our yard right. One thing led to another and he has now become our gardener. I had no idea that the truck and equipment belonged to Alex’s brother.

My wife and I really like Alex and are trying to do everything we can to help him succeed. He is a hard worker and is really trying to turn his life around. But sometimes that leads to new challenges. After replacing the spark plug, it becomes clear that the broken down mower that Alex probably bought at a garage sale is no longer fixable. Since we are his only client, he has been storing this antique in our garage. My first inclination is to wish Alex well and call out one of the many gardeners who knock on my door weekly. But my wife Cheryl challenges me to put my money where my mouth is … “he is such a hard worker and he will never give up” she said. So we just got back from Home Depot with a new mower. Did we have the money to invest in a mower at this time? Are you kidding? No way. But, I wish you could have seen the smile on Alex’s face. I hope I didn’t make a mistake … but then, if we didn’t take the chance to make a mistake, we would not have had a chance to positively change Alex’s life, now would we? And besides, I am confident we now have a friend for life. Break time … I need to check on the yard work.

I’m back. I just stepped outside to check how the new mower works. Everything looks great out there. Our yard is beautiful and Alex had finished the yard work and was washing my car. When I asked Alex what he was doing, he replied, “I’m washing your car out of appreciation.” Alex has the same type of mindset as the taxi driver described in The Old Geezer’s post today.
Thank you, Ron! Check it out. Did I make a wise business decision? That remains to be seen. But in any event, I am confident that I did what Jesus would have advised me to do and that is all that really matters …isn’t it? Making investments in people's lives!
Oops, there’s the doorbell, I’ve got to go again. Alex needs a ride home.

So let’s look briefly at the above verses:

In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you. This is a principle that I taught in sales training for years. Sit down and make a list of all of the potential customers needs, wants, and concerns before you meet with them. Now the first time you meet with them, explain how you plan to deliver on these specifics and ask if there are any additional services that they are hoping for you to provide, and then proceed to deliver beyond their expectations.

This is the Law and the Prophets.
I have provided the Romans 13 verse above for further clarification. Paul makes this clear beyond dispute. We don’t need to be legalistically following a set of rules, as Christians. This principle works in everything we do and for those things we choose not to do as well. As an example, a man should not only not visit a prostitute for the reason of adultery or not steal or murder for obvious biblical instructions, but more importantly because these sins are violations of the all inclusive “Law of Christ”. If we will just consider the impact of our actions before we act and we follow this scripture, the vast majority of our mistakes will be replaced with victorious Christian living. When pleasing ourselves drives the price we charge for our services, our customer suffers and we end up not getting a referral. When we deliver more than they expected, they are excited and refer their friends. If we first consider the consequences to others, then most often we will see immediate positive results. The proof of this could be that new friends are drawn to you like a magnet or that your income could greatly increase.
In my case … I got a free car wash and a new friend today.

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you
God Bless you my friends, Bob

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Encourager

Heb: 10: 19-25 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Are you an encourager or a discourager? Think about it. Meditate on it. In what ways do you encourage others? Two words, that mean exactly the opposite. One that builds up, the other brings down. One that inspires, another that expires. One brings about courage … the other brings fear and worry. One leads to production and victory; the other, procrastination, worry and failure. Being an encourager doesn't come about naturally. For some bizarre reason, we are instinctively drawn to the negative things of life. Bad news sells … so naturally, that is the news of the day. Encouragement is therefore a Paradox Principle. Encouragers are the ones who get promoted at work … I know that is not always true, but that’s the way it should be. And for sure, it is the way that it is with the companies that are the winners of the future.

Have you ever noticed, people are drawn to encouragers … but are repelled by discouragers, like a skunk? Encouragers will make you laugh but if they really touch you, they can bring you to tears. Once on the golf course, I asked my non-Christian friend, “Have you ever heard Zig Ziglar?” He answered, “Yes, after two hours of Ziglar, I was crying like a baby.” Encouragers move people. Wouldn’t you like to be an encourager? Would you like to be the person people point to when asked; “Who is the most encouraging person in your life?” Unfortunately, I’m not always an encourager … are you? Sometimes things are just really, really discouraging and we need to be encouraged to balance things out. But we can pull on the power of the Holy Spirit to be encouraged at any moment ... it is our choice as believers.

When you meditate on God’s word sometimes he speaks to you from deep within and things become clear that are deep and pure and powerful. A friend of mine explains this experience as follows: “And then, for one glorious, supreme moment came "the flash". This moment came rarely -- went swiftly, leaving her breathless with the inexpressible delight of it. She could never recall it -- never summon it -- never pretend it; but the wonder of it stayed with her for days. It never came twice with the same thing.” As an artist I have experienced this flash when painting. As a writer, it is as if a light has come on. As a Christian, it comes when you least expect it. More than once, the power of it has brought me to tears. I am in the middle of a flash as we speak. You never know when these moments will begin or end and you certainly never want to limit the “flash” in any way.

There is a huge difference between biblical encouragement and worldly or false encouragement. Biblical encouragement comes with the power of God’s words. They are absolute. You can stand firm on them. They will never disappoint you. On the other hand, hope and change from a secular or political perspective can be just more rhetoric and more often than not, they turn out to be just more flowers in the wind. One thing we can be sure of is that if you or I try to be the object of encouragement … it will be short lived, at best. “Only the word of the Lord abides forever” If we want to be an encourager of substance we need to be a biblical encourager. Then our words will take on God’s power. Recently, I was listening to a very influential pastor make excuses as to why he did not often teach from God’s word in his sermons. He may have a powerful smile and words that move hearts, millions who listen, and a thirteen million dollar book advance ... but when Christ and his word are removed, the words lose their power. And the encouragement is therefore temporary and just so many more words. I don’t want to judge but if pastors are not going to preach the word, they should get a new job … such as a motivational or inspirational teacher. Enough on that … this could turn negative, if my focus drifts.

How can you be sure that you are the encourager that God wants you to be?
Now I’m back on that “flash” moment. James 1:1-4 consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. God has made it clear to me this morning, that I have not been applying the lessons he has been providing me and therefore, I have allowed my circumstances to silence the Holy Spirit who wants to use these circumstances to encourage myself and others. A key point is that first I must become encouraged before I can effectively encourage others. The encouragement here comes from the verse “consider it all joy” ... I know, I have read this verse a hundred times, but God wants me to really: consider it all JOY! In relation to the loss of my business, my income, and my home … my stroke, heart condition, diabetes … he has overcome them all. My temporary life here is all nothing, from God’s eternal perspective. I already knew this, but I didn’t truly “consider it all joy” When I really consider all of these things “JOY,” I can live beyond them and my encouraging words take on new power. Especially for those who have experienced similar problems.

What about you? Job loss, foreclosure, health issues, marriage problems, and damaged relationships, are you discouraged? Are you focusing on your problems or are you considering them all JOY? God wants you to be an Encourager to others. God promises, "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Meditate on the word! Stay in Christ … until next time.

"These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world."
God bless you my friend, Bob

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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Drew Brees ... Victory in Christ

An incredible Christian role model to share with your children.
Drew Brees sees his role with the New Orleans Saints as a calling from God. And that God used his career threatening arm injury for good by turning the worst thing that had ever happened in his life into the best thing that ever happened to him.
All the while ... helping him to grow in faith and Christian maturity.

Drew accepted Christ as his savior in church on his 17th birthday when his pastor gave a challenge to his congregation that Jesus Christ needed a few good men. This clip explains how God has transformed Drew's life, and has led him to allow the love of Christ to guide him in leading and helping others on and off the football field.

Drew on Leadership

Drew on Overcoming Adversity

1John 15:12-14 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.

God Bless you My Friends, Bob

Backing Down? ... I don't think so

There is still hope for the future of America. All you need to do is look at the writings of this twelve year old girl who clearly loves the Lord.

Mathew 19: 13-14 Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

God Bless You My Friend, Bob

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Change Is A Three Step Process

Ephesians 4: 22-28 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.

When Is a thief no longer a thief? Most would answer this one with the obvious “When he stops stealing” And from the world’s perspective, that would be true in most cases. Self help books would teach that "you need to replace you old bad habit with a new habit." But from God’s Word we see that “Change is a Step Process” and that we all need to do three things to overcome sinful habits.

1. Put off your old self
2. Be made new in the attitude of your minds
3. Put on the new self

This clearly explains why people cannot overcome on their own strength. Without God’s word to help us renew our minds with the truth, we are most likely to replace the old wih more old … just a little bit better old. How does that play out in your day to day life? In a hundred different ways, but here are a couple. A dieter might replace Coke with Diet Coke, instead of pure water. A man addicted to porn might turn to mystery novels rather than reading the Bible. Now I hear you, what’s wrong with Diet Coke or mystery novels? And I respond, nothing … but they are not the best decisions you can make. Are both persons better off? … most likely yes, but we are talking here about becoming the person Jesus Christ wants us to be: Ambassadors for Christ with a ministry of reconciliation. "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Cor. 5:21

It is amazing how often when God gives us a way in which he wants us to change, He also gives us the put-on and put-off and the scripture we need to commit to memory to renew our mind so that we can become like Christ. Let’s walk through the above verses and I’ll show you what I mean.

Put off: Falsehood. We are all guilty of having told "little white lies" or some of us might tell big lies on occasion. Or we can deceive by not saying anything. Being truthful means if we do not agree with our chosen political party’s position on an issue, we don’t say we agree with it … to be politically correct. It is lying if you encourage a friend or relative to go ahead, when you know what they are doing is wrong ... or to say good job to your child when you know they did not do their best. Giving ribbons to the losers and telling them they won is wrong also.
Put on: Speak truthfully: In two different situations, I was told about friends who had caught others cheating at golf. When I asked, Did you confront him about the cheating, my friends replied, No way, that would be the end of our friendship. Well, if a friendship isn’t based on honesty, it isn’t a friendship. Hearing the truth is what everyone should want to hear from those that love them. It might hurt you or them on the short run but, not being honest will hurt everyone much more ... in the living out of our lives. Truthfulness is a key to being a person others can trust.
Renew Mind: For we are all members of one body. This command is even more important to those of us who are in the body of Christ, and for those who are close to us and who we love.

Put off: In your anger do not sin. This verse does not say, “Don’t be angry.” In fact, it assumes you will be angry … just don’t sin in your anger. Think before you react. “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Cor 10:5 This is the person we would become when we have the mind of Christ.
Put on: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. When we do lose our temper and self control … go now and make it right. To allow for the situation to sit will allow for bitterness, resentment and hatred to replace a disagreement. I have learned this one the hard way.
Renew Mind: Do not give the devil a foothold. On more than one occasion, I have said or done something that has allowed for the devil to get a foothold between me and those I love very much. I am convinced that in most cases, the people involved can’t even tell you what they are upset about. In my case, I have tried but my attempts go ignored. People get hurt and their pride will guide them from that point on. Only the love of Christ can restore when it gets to this point. Once more: if you are reading this, I love you, I’m sorry, please forgive me.

Put off: Steal no longer Although, our new age has given many new subtle ways to steal … let’s assume that for the sake of discussion … none of us are thiefs.
Put on: Must work Oh, wait a minute. Is not working and living off of others stealing? See what I mean … this one gets tricky.
So let’s simplify: 1. Don’t steal 2. Work
Renew Mind: Doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. This renewing the mind part is the most important part of this one. We need to completely change the way we think here. It is a 180 degree switch. Instead of having the mind of a thief who asks himself “what can I get today from someone else that I did not earn, so I can please myself” … we need to have a new mind that asks me “ how much can I earn today, so that I can give it away, to someone else, to help fill their need”

A thief is no longer a thief when his mind has been transformed to the point where the love of Christ is controlling his every thought.

1John 15:12-14 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.

God Bless you My Friends, Bob

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Positive Thinking Is Biblical

Philippians 4:6-9 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

A number of years ago, a young woman called me on the phone.
I was referred to you by my brother who goes to your church she said, and I need help. What is your problem I asked? Well I don’t know what to do, things are so horrible, I might as well die. And then she went on to explain. My unemployed husband was drunk and while trying to steal some pallets, he jumped off a fence and broke both legs. Now he is in the hospital and I have no way to pay the bill. Welfare cut off our checks and so we can’t pay our rent and we are six weeks behind. I just know the landlord is going to evict us. I have three small children and I am pregnant and I have a huge tumor on my neck, that needs to be removed … but they can’t remove it until after I deliver my baby, and I just know that it is going to be cancer and I’ll die. I know you might be thinking … this can’t be a true story, Bob must have made this up but, it is true, and I remember it as clear as if it happened today.

That is a sad situation, I said, and then I asked, Is there anything good going on in your life? NO, she replied, everything’s horrible. That can’t be true, I said there must be something good. Can’t you even name one thing good in your life? No, she said.
I said okay, would you mind if I asked you a few questions? And then I proceeded.
Are you a Christian? Yes she replied. Is that good or bad I asked. I guess its Good she said, but it doesn't seem like it right now.
You have three kids. Are they healthy? Yes Is that good or bad. Good she said.
Did your family eat today? Yes she replied. Is that good or bad? Good.
Are the utilities on in your home? Yes Is that good or bad? Good.
Is your husband a good father? Yes! Is he good with your kids? Yes Good.
Has your landlord given you an eviction notice? No is that good or bad? Good.
Has the doctor told you the tumor is cancerous? No. Is that good or bad? Good.
Does Jesus Love you and your children? Good or Bad? Good.
Has God promised he will never leave you or forsake you? Yes Is that good or bad? Good.
Now, I said, that's ten good things and I am not even warmed up ... do I need to continue? And finally she replied, no, I see what you are getting at. What’s that I asked? "I guess it is all in how you look at things." She said.

Well, to make a long story short, I went to meet with that young woman’s husband Randy, and he prayed for Christ to come in and take over his life, and the last we talked they were working on a plan to get their family’s problems solved and their life on the right path. Hopefully I’ll be able to get an update from them in heaven.

I don’t know about you but these past ten years have brought me a negative list longer than the girl’s above … so much so, that from a human perspective, sometimes I just want to throw in the towel and quit. Oh I know, some would say … Bob’s list couldn’t be that bad, but none of us really have any idea about how many problems someone elses life is going through. I will only say, no matter how low you have been, I think I’ve been lower. I won't burden you, but trust me, I could go on and on. And watching political television news shows only brings me lower. The news of the day provides a hundred ways to bring us down and very little that brings us back up! But the Good News is that God has provided a Positive list that far outweighs the negatives. All we need to do is meditate on The lord's blessings and promises and He gives us peace and joy in the eye of the storm.

When we focus on Christ and his word, the highs will far outweigh the lows. Today’s verse is God’s answer to negative thinking and receiving negative input. As I have posted previously, I love to talk politics … but the problem for me is that it always turns negative and nothing gets resolved. People’s minds are set and it is always your opinion against someone elses. The difference with Christianity is that we have a final authority to look to and stand on. The problem Christians run into is that many want to receive Christ, but then they remain the god of their day to day lives. With God, we can always turn to his truths for hope, wisdom, knowledge,courage, direction, peace, joy, love and encouragement.

Now let’s review the text above:

Be anxious for nothing: Don’t worry. The Lord has everything under control. He knows your problems and will cause all things to work together for your good.

"But in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." Make a list of your blessings first. Give thanks for all of the ways God has blessed you. Then you will be able to bring today’s problems to the Lord in prayer with a thankful heart and a heart and mind that faithfully believes that God hears you and will answer your prayers. Your prayers will take on new power and you will hear God and see what he wants you to do today.

"And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus". Once you are confident that you are doing what he wants you to do, you can now live above the problems of the world … trusting your cares to the one who is the Creator and Lord of all. And He will guard you heart and mind from wrong thinking, and negative and evil input, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

"Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things." This is Biblical Positive Thinking. God wants us to meditate on the good, the clean, the pure, the powerful, and the positive. Cut off the negative input … which would include the majority of the news in the world. We are here and cannot ignore the problems of the world but one hour of filling your mind with positive hardly balances eight hours of negative input from the TV. Think about it. What fills your mind each day? You are what you eat … works mentally as well as physically.

"The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you." So become disciplined. Memorize God’s instructions and practice living His truths morning, noon and night. And the promise is: Jesus will guide you, guard you, love you, and protect you.

It doesn’t get any better than that!

God Bless You, My Friend … Bob