SEXUAL IMMORALITY

We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. —I Thessalonians 2:4

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit. —I Thessalonians 4:3-8

Why did the student bring a bright red, shiny apple and put it on the teacher’s desk. Was it out of love for the teacher, manipulation of the teacher or to please the teacher? Some people go to great extent to be people pleasers. They want everyone to like them and will do whatever they can to make it so.

Oh, that we would do all we can to please God. There is nothing we can do to please God for salvation except trust the finished work of Jesus—- He took the penalty and punishment for our sin on the cross and by trusting that work we are saved from hell and saved to a relationship with God through Him. But once we are saved then “we keep his commands and do what pleases him” (I John 3:22). I should seek to obey him and please Him in what I do because I love Him and am grateful for all He has done for me. God’s servants seek to please Him first, not people (Galatians 1:10).

He tests my heart. He alone fully knows it. He knows it better than I know it myself. One area He will test it is in the area of sexual morality. He knows if I am being faithful in that area and He also knows if you are being faithful in that area. He tells us to avoid sexual immorality and have control over our bodies “in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God…” Self-control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Am I; are you Holy Spirit controlled in this area of our lives? Let us not be conformed to the world’s sexual immorality!

Our culture in the United States is slipping down this dark slope of sexual immorality rapidly. Schools are pushing it on children even at a very young age. Homosexuality is being taught to them as normal and it is disgusting to even mention what our educational system is telling young children. It makes me wonder how many sexual predators are in the system. These are adults pushing this on children.

We hear little to nothing from leaders speaking out on this issue. I know there are some in the Christian community that do, but the government is promoting this immorality. Where are our godly leaders? Why are they not speaking out about this area? Most government leaders are intimidated, passive or go along with this immorality.

Fellow follower of Jesus Christ, we need to be faithful in this area. I read that among the professing church in the U.S. “49 percent believed that “living with someone of the opposite sex without being married” was morally okay. Just under half of those questioned (49 percent) were comfortable with “enjoying sexual thoughts or fantasies about someone” http://www.freewonderfulbook.com/ -page 14. God tests our hearts!

Dear Father, may we be a faithful example in the area of sexual morality!

BLOODY HANDS

Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent of it. —Acts 18:6

Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done? (Psalm 24:11-12).

The apostle Paul sought to share the rescuing message of the gospel with multitudes. The verse above in context tells us that “Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah” (Acts 18:5). When they rejected the message they were responsible for the outcome of their own lives— which would be judgment in hell forever for not trusting the Lord Jesus Christ. This was Paul’s heart. He wanted to warn people of the judgment to come, what Jesus had done for us so we wouldn’t have to be judged and he was faithful in doing so.

As followers of Jesus we cannot say, “But we knew nothing about this.” We know the gospel, we know that those who do not know Jesus need to hear the gospel and we know the outcome of those who do not trust the gospel—that Jesus died for our sins, that He was buried and that He rose from the dead the 3rd day to give forgiveness and eternal life to all repent (turn from their sins) and follow Him— is to be cast into hell forever. Those who follow Jesus cannot say, “I didn’t know.” Jesus has given us responsibility to reach out to the lost (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). Are we? We will give an account to Jesus one day (II Corinthians 5:10).

Are we innocent or is there blood on our hands because we are not sharing the gospel?

Dear Father, may the Holy Spirit work in and through me to have a great desire to share the gospel with those who do not know Jesus. May many respond.

MAN THE LIFEBOATS!

In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.” —Acts 17:30-31

“Man the lifeboats!” This was a command from the captain and not an optional “Get in the lifeboats if you feel like it.” The ship was going down and it was going down quick. The captain’s command was sharp, concise and there was great concern in his voice. Only a few people took the command seriously and quickly move toward the lifeboats and got in. Others slowly moved in that direction, but not with conviction to get in the lifeboats. Still others just went about what they were doing thinking they had plenty of time and then there were those who just didn’t believe the captain. The ship sank within minutes…

The ship of planet earth is sinking and all those floundering in the ocean of sin will go down to judgment if they do not obey Captain Jesus. Everyone is commanded to repent… that is to turn from their own sinful ways and follow the Captain’s commands. This is not an option. Every person will sink down in the Lake of Fire if they do not obey the Lord Jesus Christ! Some will immediately obey the Captain. Others will slowly move in the direction of obeying Him, but there are those who will go on with what they are doing or will not believe they will sink down into the Lake of Fire… forever. But that time is getting ever so much closer!

Captain Jesus is commanding, “Repent, have a change of heart about your sin, call on Me and I will forgive You, serve Me and one day be with Me in Paradise—Heaven. Have you responded to Captain Jesus? Rejoice! Your are eternally safe in Him. Have you not responded to Captain Jesus? Your are in dire danger of destruction and doom in the Lake of Fire! He is commanding you to repent and trust Him before it is too late. Ship earth is sinking quickly. Soon it will be too late. Obey Him today!

Dear Father, thank You for Jesus providing the way to be saved from our sin, to be able to serve You and one day to be with You and all who love You. Oh, for those who may be reading this and have not trusted Jesus— may they do so today!

TRULY LIVING FOR JESUS

So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew daily in numbers. —Acts 16:5

The soil was very fertile from the cattle that used to graze on the land for years. You could see the garden plants strengthened day by day in that soil. The number of blossoms that appeared on the plants grew each day as well. The harvest would be plentiful.

According to this verse in context Paul was going from town to town delivering to churches the decision agreed upon by the apostles and elders at a council that took place in Jerusalem (Acts 15). Upon hearing the Word from Paul we are told that two things happened. First, “the churches were strengthened in the faith” and second, the churches “grew daily in numbers.”

These early believers really believed what they believed and they truly lived according to how they believed on a daily basis. It was not “Christmas & Easter” Christianity. Nor was it Sunday only or other meetings only Christianity. No, it was “life transformation.” They daily lived out what it truly means to follow Jesus. Therefore, they were maturing and impacting the lost around them. They were immovable and solid in their faith and because of that they put their faith into practice and had a great influence in their culture. They church matured and grew in size.

There are some real basics to following Jesus and if we truly love God and love people these basics will be foundational to our lives. Prayer— Am I in regular communication with the Lord God Almighty? His Word— Am I getting to know Him better by understanding and applying what He has to say to me? Fellowship— Am I getting together with other believers because of Jesus? Witness— Am I regularly sharing the gospel with those around me? Discipleship— Am I involved in discipleship relationships? Am I discipling someone? Is someone discipling me? These are basics in following Jesus. Yet, I have heard many people wanting the “deeper things of God” when they have not even applied the basics. That is concerning. It tells me we have a knowledge based faith without the foundational applications.

Are you maturing in the Lord Jesus Christ? Then these basics will be part of your life. If these basics are part of your life then you will be praying for the lost, involved with the lost, be excited about God’s Word to you, loving to fellowship with other believers who want to truly live for Jesus, and want to see yourself and others mature in Jesus. If these are not desires of yours or mine, then something is wrong and unhealthy in our lives… or worse— we may not even be saved.

Dear Father, please help me to live the life to the fullest as You desire me to. Oh, that I would be a faithful follower of Jesus my Lord. May it be!

SHARP DISAGREEMENT

They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. —Acts 15:39

Ever been in such a sharp disagreement that you and the person you were disagreeing with went your separate ways? Sometimes people feel so strongly about a situation that they are willing to part ways over it. It can take place with a family member, a relative, in the workplace or at school and in the church. It can happen with people you have known for a brief time or that you have known for decades.

The context of the verse above is speaking about Paul and Barnabas. These two men had served together, had been close to death together and they had seen the Lord work wonderfully together. At the end of the mission the church in Antioch sent them out on, had commissioned them on, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done. These two men had been through much together.

Yet, when Paul and Barnabas were going to go back later and do follow-up to see how those who believed were doing, they had a sharp disagreement over John Mark. Barnabas wanted to take him along with them, but Paul did not because the previous time he traveled with Paul and Barnabas he “deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work” (Acts 13:13; 15:39). These men went their separate ways. Barnabas took John Mark and went west to Cyprus. Paul took Silas and headed north to Syria and then to Cilicia.

Later there gives indication that there had been resolution at some point because Paul said, “Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry” (II Timothy 4:11). Sadly resolution among those who profess the name of Jesus Christ doesn’t seem to happen very often— at least not in my life’s sphere of travel. Usually when Christians have a sharp disagreement, or even just a disagreement, they just go their separate ways and don’t even seek to be reconciled over the area they had disagreed on. It appears we have a very low value in relationships at times. This is sad and such a poor testimony to the world.

I was recently talking with a brother who had a real concern that a church that was planted by the church he attends had a disagreement of some sort. Now those attending at the church plant are not even welcome at the church that planted them— not even at Bible studies or Conferences! How sad is that?

We live in a fallen world and unfortunately, even in the church there can be disagreements which are not handled well even over much time. I am grateful for the example here today where there was resolution and Paul saw John Mark as a valuable part of the ministry. That had surely not always been the case.

Have you had a falling out with someone? Have you attempted to be reconciled? Have you been to the person or church to talk about the situation? You are responsible for the part the Lord desires of you to do. Others are responsible for their part. Are you doing your part? May it be so!

Dear Father, when disagreement happens, may we seek to work through it properly according to Your will. Help us not to just go our separate ways and never deal with the situation. May we do what is pleasing in Your sight and in Jesus Name.

INSTANT MATURITY

In Lystra there sat a man who was lame. He had been that way from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk. —Acts 14:8-10

It is fun to watch the progression of children’s motor abilities from infancy. As a baby they mostly just lay on their back cooing or crying, helpless. Then they get to a point where they can roll over. Eventually up on their arms or hands to start pushing their torso up. Then some children do the army crawl while others get up on both hands and knees to crawl. Then they start kneeling while holding onto something and eventually they pull themselves up to stand while holding on. Not long after they venture to take a couple steps before falling down to a sitting position or flat on their face and soon they are toddling. Soon after that stage they increase quickly in their walking skills.

Think about that as you ponder the verses above and what took place in this man’s life. He had never walked before, but when God did a miracle in his life, it was not just the walking, but it was being able to walk without going through the stages of learning how to walk! Not only that, he immediately had the skill to jump up. Part of this wonderful miracle was that God gave him the ability to skip the stages of learning to walk and to be able to walk immediately. That is so awesome and only God could do that.

Now, let’s say you or I were living at the time and were a friend or relative of this man. Can you imagine introducing him to someone the next day saying, “I would like you to meet “Harry” (the man’s name was not given). By the way, Harry just started walking yesterday.” If the person you told was an unsaved scientist he would probably have thought “sure, that is not impossible. This man would have had to go through the learning stages before he could walk. It would have been a long process that would take much time.”

God caused a grown man to walk without the process of time that it normally takes. God did this and surely He made Adam and Eve mature in a moment as well. They did not develop as the typical person does. So too the earth was created mature… and the universe… This awesome Lord God Almighty confounds the intellectuals. They “lean on their own understanding” and do not trust the plain teaching of His Word.

Our God is an AWESOME God and He can do whatever He wants regardless of what man thinks…

Thank You Heavenly Father for me being able to know a bit of how powerful You are! Yes, You can do anything You desire and You never depend on man’s understanding to do it. May I truly seek to understand You and not man’s idea of You. Thank You for revealing Yourself to us in Your Word. I am grateful!

SCOFFERS

“Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses. Take care that what the prophets have said does not happen to you: “ ‘Look, you scoffers, wonder and perish, for I am going to do something in your days that you would never believe, even if someone told you.’ ” —Acts 13:38-41

Get on the lifeboats! Quick, the ship is sinking! Many laughed, saying, “Ah, it is only a drill.” The warning came again and again, but it was ignored. People scoffed at the news. A few lifeboats move away from the ship, but most of the people went on about their business as if nothing was said. The ship went down as warned.

So it is today and so it has been always. Most people scoff at the idea they need Jesus to be forgiven of their sin so they can serve Him now and to be with Him in heaven when they die. The sad thing about those scoffing at salvation through Jesus is that they are on their way to perishing in hell and even joke about it. In First Corinthians 1:18 we read “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” Most people don’t want to hear about Jesus and “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (Romans 1:18-20). God has made it plain that He exists and nobody can say they did not know. Psalm 19:1-4 tell us that “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” I have heard people say they just need more evidence. God says that the evidence is all around them, that it is plain to them and they suppress it.

Yes, Jesus took the justice that you and I deserve and all who trust Him will be set free from the power and penalty of sin. Those who trust Jesus are given God’s righteousness because they have none of their own (II Corinthians 5:21). Those who truly trust Jesus are forgiven of all their sin, are able to serve Him now and one day will be in heaven where everything will be perfect! It is amazing that the majority of people would reject Jesus and make the choice of going to hell. How sad…

Dear Father, thank You for the justice, forgiveness and salvation found in Jesus. May many more people hear this Good News and respond by trusting Jesus as well.

LIFE IS SHORT

What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. —James 4:14

I look out my window and see the changing color of the leaves. It is a beautiful time of year with the various colors against a backdrop of deep blue sky. The air is crisp, but the sun is warm. Leaves are falling from the trees and the daylight hours are getting much shorter. Autumn is upon us again. Another year passing by— my 59th autumn. But, it seems just the other day I was playing in the dirt as a child…

The early morning lake mist disappears quickly once the sun comes up. It is a stark reminder of the above verse. Mist does not last very long and according to the verse above our lives are short as well. Ponder for a moment your own life. Isn’t it amazing that you are at this age already? Regardless of how old you are, soon life will be over. Now that is not a morbid thought, it is a reminder to live a life the Lord God has desired of us because, whether we believe it or not, we will soon be meeting Jesus face to face after death. We can either make the choice of living for Him now and meeting Him as Savior after death or we can live for our own desires and meet Him as judge after death. Meeting Him as Judge will not be a good thing. He is the perfect judge and His judgment will be final. If you have not, please trust Jesus as Lord and Savior before your mist of life is gone.

Dear Father, please help us consider the brevity of our lives and truly trust the Lord Jesus who loves us, died for our sins and rose from the grave that we too may have new life in Him. We have all broken Your law. We are have not put you first, but are idolaters, blasphemers, don’t keep one day a week for You, are parent dishonorers, murders, adulterers, liars, coveters… yes, we have broken Your Law and deserve judgment, but thank You, Jesus, that Your were willing to take my judgment that I could know You and serve You. May I do so with whatever life I have left. Yes, may I honor You.

POWER OF THE TONGUE

Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. —James 3:4

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. —James 3:7-8

Man can guide massive vehicles with very little instruments. An oil tanker, the Seawise Giant, was in service from 1979-2009. It was 1504.1 feet long, weighed 260, 851 gross tons and was guided by a 230 ton rudder. Today the world’s largest oil tanker is the Knock Nevis (580,000 tons). It takes 5.5 miles to stop with a turning circle of over 2 miles. It takes nearly 15 minutes to turn 180 degrees. Yet, compared to the vessel itself, man can navigate this tanker with a very small rudder.

According to the verses above, man can tame all kinds of creatures as well as guide large ships with rudders that are a very small per cent of the vessel. One thing man cannot tame or guide his body properly with is the tongue. Like a rudder the tongue is a very small per cent of the body, but it surely can guide the body into destructive purposes.

Harsh words can stir up fury (Proverbs 15:1). Jeroboam caused the split of the nation with his harsh words (II Chronicles 10:12-17). Words can be insulting (Psalm 59:7). Ten times his friends insulted him, crushing him with their words (Job 19:2-3). Words stir up conflict and even separates close friends (Proverbs 16:28). Yes, the little rudder of the body, the tongue, can be very destructive. Look at the world and see if that is not the case. Look at your extended family and see if that is not the case.

No man can tame the tongue— no man. It takes the Holy Spirit of God to tame man’s tongue, to control the tongue. A man need’s to trust the Lord Jesus Christ to have His tongue guided properly.

Let me just give a brief example of this. The 3rd commandment of the Ten Commandments says, “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name” (Exodus 20:7). In our culture here in the United States you can hear this done all the time. Go into a work place, into a school or just out and about and you will hear people say “Jesus Christ” just to punctuate their sentences. Those who do not know Jesus do not understand that they are actually breaking God’s Law by doing this and that they are doing this in rebellion to Him, but they cannot control their tongue from doing so. It is only when a person trusts the Lord Jesus Christ that the Holy Spirit of God can control their tongue to honor Jesus instead of using His Name in a blasphemous, profane or offensive way.

The tongue uncontrolled can cause much destruction, but the tongue controlled by God can bring much good. What is the status of my tongue and yours— uncontrolled or controlled?

Dear Father please help me to speak with You in control of my tongue that I might be an encouragement to people and not harmful to them. Oh, I am grateful to know that my tongue can be controlled by You. May I speak to honor You and to be helpful to others.

DEAD OR ALIVE

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? —James 2:14

In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. —James 2:17

You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. —James 2:22

As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. —James 2:26

He said he was a carpenter, but he never did any carpentry work. She said she was a doctor, but she never did any medical work. The boy said he was a football player, but he never played any football. The girl said she was a swimmer, but she never did any swimming.

It is easy to say something, but it is the actions that really show what a person is. Follow any person around for a few weeks without them knowing it and you will understand who and what that person is.

A person saying they are a Christian does not mean that they actually are one. Their deeds will prove whether they are or not. A Gallup poll said 77% of Americans identify themselves as Christians. 36% of the world’s population claim to be Christian. The deeds of this world do not back this up. Truly, if there were that many Christians who were sincerely following Jesus, this world would be a much different place.

I can stand on a used car parking lot and say that I am a used car, but that does not make me one. A person can say they are a Christian, but that in itself does not make them one.
What are the characteristics of a carpenter? A Doctor? A football player? A swimmer? That is how they will be identified as being authentic! So it is with those who claim to be Christians, sincere followers of Jesus. Their lives will show forth His characteristics. The faith they say they have will be active. They will not be C & E Christians (Christmas & Easter). No, they will be seeking to follow Jesus daily, moment by moment and they will be known by others that they are truly a follower of Jesus. Faith in Jesus will be seen as active in the believer’s life and not passive.

Do you and I have the authentic characteristics of a sincere follower of Jesus? May it be so!

Dear Father, may I truly live faithfully for Jesus. That is my desire. Forgive me for all the times that I fail in doing so. I seek to be a faithful follower of my Lord Jesus. May it be so!