Posted in A Father's Love, Creation, Devotions, Holiness, Marraige, spiritual warfare, wisdom, worship

Faith When it Counts!–Hebrews 11 Part 2

As Christians, the basis of our lives is our faith in God.  Our very eternal life is only obtained thru faith. But, faith is very easy to talk about, it is much harder to demonstrate when the going gets long and tough. This week, the focus of the study will be the Bible’s faith hall of fame. These are the folks God chose to be the “poster children” for faith as a way of life.

Noah was literally, the last man standing to trust and follow God! after 120 years of being the butt of jokes and center of gossip–God shut Noah and his family into the ark and wiped out the earth.  Noah prepared for a storm and flood–that until it occurred, had never been imagined. He simply trusted God and obeyed his instruction. As he did, Noah had no idea what to expect–nor what it would do.

Abram–(Later Abraham)-when told by God to go to Canaan; packed up his stuff and his bride and left.  He and his son, his grandson and his great-grandchildren all spent their lives in tents, awaiting the promise to be given the land on which they were living. None ever saw in their lifetimes–the presentation of the promised land that occurred over 400 years after their deaths.

When we grasp that this is all God’s stuff–as they did, then we can walk freely where God leads without fear; then God will provide, protect and prepare us to meet the challenges of life; and, accept his gifts and his plans. Some may not come soon, in fact, some may not be answered in our lifetimes.  Like Noah and Abram, we must trust God when it is difficult to do so–that is when faith actually matters.

God Bless You

By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised landlike a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she[b] considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.

13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Posted in A Father's Love, Creation, Devotions, Holiness, Marraige, spiritual warfare, wisdom, worship

The Life of Faith–Hebrews 11 Part 1

The life of faith is not a new advent from the time of Christ’s resurrection.  The life of faith has been a critical component of man’s relationship to God from the very beginning.  The “Faith Hall of Fame” in Hebrews 11, looks at the difference faith has made in the lives of believers.  It is most enlightening,in fact, that–as the discussion begins, it begins with Cain and Able–back at the very beginning.

Faith is a combination of trust and action.  It is not that people simply believe what God says; they also live and walk in a way that demonstrates that belief.  Able demonstrated his faith by giving his first and best sacrifice.  Enoch demonstrated his faith by walking so closely with God, that God literally brought him on up to heaven without him having to experience death.  These demonstrations of faith simply represent the the core truth–without faith, it is impossible to please God! 

In our lives, faith looks different for each of us.  Like Enoch and Able, the demonstrations are dramatically different.  The core, however, is the same–“Do I believe God, and believe he will reward those that diligently seek him?”  In each of our lives, we choose daily to walk by faith.  As we make the choice; the things we say and do stand out as unique and glorifying to God.  Acts of faith are not rated as big or small; awesome or OK–they are simply signs that we have moved out of the way and allowed God to lead.  In God’s eyes, that is huge!

God Bless You

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.

By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.”[a] For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Posted in A Father's Love, Creation, Devotions, Holiness, spiritual warfare, wisdom, worship

The Gift of Community–Hebrews 10 Part 2

In God’s eyes, it is all good news.  He never promised the journey would be easy, nor did he promise that following him would come without trial, temptation and spiritual battle.  What he has promised, is that he will walk with us through the battle and will provide, protect and prepare his people for the journey ahead.  But, God knew that people needed community to be able to face the issues and battles of life.  
So, while he cleanses our hearts of the sin that separates us from him; he also provides a community of believers that will come along side to meet us where we are, and provide the encouragement necessary to face the trials set before us. As a family, we have seen God send people in to literally make possible what at the time seemed absolutely impossible.  Time and again, it has been the fellowship of believers that have restored lives, saved families, healed the sick and mended the broken-hearted.
The writer reminds us that we are to encourage, and come along side one another–not to judge, but to build up, spur-on and provide the support that only a person with skin on their face and arms to hug with can do. We have to get a little messy and love those that need it–because , rest assured, the world will not!!! We are warned not to forsake meeting together–that is what charges our batteries, and makes us ready to face this journey to the end.
God Bless You

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Posted in A Father's Love, Creation, Devotions, Holiness, spiritual warfare, wisdom, worship

God Never Breaks His Promise-Hebrews 6 Part 2

It is the cornerstone of our faith–God keeps his promises. What a great reminder for the chosen.  The writer of Hebrews makes it clear–since there is no one greater than God, he swore by himself to Abraham and ultimately to us, that he would establish a lineage and preserve our relationship through Christ.  While we have discussed the fact we cannot earn our salvation by what we do; we have seen that when we surrender to Christ, we become different people.

In that surrender, everything changes.  The burden for our salvation rests entirely upon God–and His promise.  He neither expects, nor hopes that we will come to him perfect.  He takes us broken and sinful, but then, He transforms us through the power of His spirit.  That is why Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrated his love for us, in that while we were yet sinners–Christ died for us!” He also reminds us in Philippians 1:6, “He that has begun a good work in you will carry it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

The covenant of salvation rests entirely on a God who cannot lie or break a promise.  If I were looking for a place to rest such an important covenant, I think that would be where I would gladly rest it!

God Bless You

When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, 14 saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.”[d] 15 And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.

16 People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. 17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

Posted in A Father's Love, Devotions, Holiness, spiritual warfare, wisdom, worship

Fat Little Baby Christians–Hebrews 5 Part 2

It is so tempting to keep it light and just stay on the fringes of faith.  So many Christians go to church once a week, acknowledge their faith if pressed, and they “don’t do anything wrong”.  But, in their mind, truth be told, their faith does not sustain their life.  It is a necessary but only small part of their daily routine. They still pick themselves up each day and do life on their own! The writer of Hebrews saw several people in that position.  He made clear that this walk needed to be active and maturing.  Christians must not try to nourish our spiritual lives on the baby food of the faith.  We need to dig in to the meat of God’s word and live in the battle of life–as his child; growing and becoming spiritual ladies and gentlemen.

To accomplish that feat, we have to realize that we are not samplers of God, but we place our lives in his trust and follow him into battle daily.  To do that successfully, we need to learn seek and know Him.  We need to embrace the faith we have been given, and allow Him to mature and complete us. We then will be ready to eat the solid food of our faith!  In fact, we can go strictly fruit…of the spirit! LOL.

God Bless You


 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

Posted in A Father's Love, Creation, Devotions, Holiness, wisdom, worship

Focus on What is Important–Hebrews 3 Part 1

The writer of Hebrews was exposing one of the enemy’s great tactics.  Exchange good for best.  The Hebrew nation was reverently devoted to Moses, the great liberator. He led the people of Israel out of Egypt, through the Red Sea and across the desert for forty years.  In that journey, Moses watched the people fail God time after time–still, he never wavered. As the great leader, Moses marched them to the entrance of the promised land, but, his own sin kept him from entering.  
So, the writer reminded the chosen people of Israel–“Moses is very good–BUT–Jesus created Moses.  Israel was so busy worshiping what God created, that they forgot that worship needs to focus on the creator–not the created. They clearly meant well,  and as men go, one would be hard pressed to find a more devoted follower of God. Still, there is no created thing ever greater than its creator.  That is why, both then and now, we are called to focus on our creator, not the created.
In present day, we do the same.  We get focused upon great preachers, great worship bands, beautiful churches, attendance, all great things and also great tools to point us to the our Lord; the author and perfecter of the faith. When, we focus on the created, however, it is a slow but inevitable spiral that sins us away from God and into the hands of our enemy. 
It is incumbent upon us to focus on Christ–the name above all names! His sacrifice, his resurrection and his advocacy on our behalf.  There has been, is, nor will ever be one that comparative to the amazing and powerful name of the Lord.  If we will remain focused upon him, we can still admire and enjoy all the things he provides to draw us to him–he simply reminds us that the focus must remain on God! Philippians 2 says it best–
“Therefore, God raised him to the highest place and gave him a name that is above every name–so that at the name of Jesus EVERY knee will bow; in heaven, on earth and below the earth–and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord–to the glory and praise of God the Father!” Phil 2:9-11
God Bless You

Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. “Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,”[a] bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.

Posted in A Father's Love, Creation, Devotions, Holiness, spiritual warfare, wisdom, worship

The Supremacy Of Christ–Hebrews 1 Part 1

My mentor as a youth, would often quote Soren Kierkigaard when he talked about Jesus.  The quote has stuck with me since 7th grade…”Jesus was the most definitive figure ever to stalk the panorama of human history.” When the author of Hebrews started his discussion of God’s desire for relationship with his chosen people–the Hebrew nation; he showcased the main thing, first–Jesus.  

When we discuss Jesus, we first need to take stock in who He is. Jesus is God–He traded his Immortal, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent nature–to become the example, the messenger, the message and the sacrifice for the restoration of our relationship with a Holy and eternal God. He was not just an amazing man, teacher, leader or rebel–He is God, in the flesh.

He created the universe, he defeated sin and he rose from the dead and remains our advocate to the Father. Because he is God, he is above the angels–in fact, as Paul said in Philippians 2, “Therefore, God placed him at the highest place and placed his name above every name; so, that at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow in heaven, on earth and under the earth; and, every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father!”  

For us, the issue is not his lordship–that has been long established.  The issue is whether we are willing to bow the knee, and confess that lordship in our daily life. When we do, He promises to lead us through the amazing journey of life–to our eternal home with Him, in Heaven. It is a great gift–especially when we grasp from whom we received it.

God Bless You

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whomalso he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.  For to which of the angels did God ever say,

“You are my Son;
    today I have become your Father”[a]?

Or again,

“I will be his Father,
    and he will be my Son”[b]?

And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says,

“Let all God’s angels worship him.”[c]

In speaking of the angels he says,

“He makes his angels spirits,
    and his servants flames of fire.”[d]

But about the Son he says,

“Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever;
    a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.
You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
    therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions
    by anointing you with the oil of joy.”[e]

Posted in A Father's Love, Devotions, Holiness, Marraige, spiritual warfare, wisdom, worship

Make Your Life the Sermon–Titus 2 Part 2

The saying goes–actions speak louder than words. Paul is attempting to show Titus and the people in his church that their life’s actions speak louder than their words. Whether young or old, male or female, slave or free; each person is  responsible for their own actions.

Paul knew that the world is looking for an excuse to stop the church–to counter that, he encouraged the young preacher to embrace a holy life and to teach his congregation to do the same.  In doing that, the church then takes away any excuse for the world’s horrible persecution.

In our day, we too are called to live a holy life. The calling is not the basis for our salvation, but, it does lend credibility to our message of hope and it keeps us focused on what is important. 

Such a life also gives direction and example to those who come after us. Our families and those with whom we share our lives–look to us for the answers to life’s questions and problems. It is therefore, incumbent upon us, to show them a way to live a life that brings meaning and joy. Embracing that lifestyle, will, in the end, give us a message that will speak, and a life that is full and meaningful.

God Bless You.

In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness

and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.

Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them,

and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.

It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,

while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,

who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.

Posted in A Father's Love, Devotions, Holiness, Marraige, spiritual warfare, wisdom, worship

Teaching and Living the Christian Life–Titus 2 Part 1

Paul knew that the community of believers were hungry for direction on how to Live the Christian Life.  He also knew the message for each person and life stage had to be tailored to where they were living.  So Paul gives specific direction for people in different points of the journey.  For us old guys, Paul tells Titus–teach them to act with self-control, live a life worthy of respect and be wise…It is certainly easy, as we get older, to let things go and be less self-aware.  But, if we are disciplined and wise, we can have a life changing affect on others. 

The same holds true with ladies that are well along the path.  They set the tone for their families, and they can train younger women to be grateful for their husbands and family, even when both are imperfect. To do that, these amazing women have to live and walk in a way that shows themselves worthy of respect and honor. No loose tongues that spread gossip or spit out angry and vile rhetoric–such talk lessens and even negates any long term impact they may have.

As for the younger set–women must love and care for your husbands and families–make them your ministry and be the guardian of your household.  Young husbands are the protectors and providers–but, let’s face it, without young wives and moms–homes and families would be a complete disaster.

Finally, young men need to practice humility and submission to God. The world would tell you “No Holds Barred” but, as young men make choices in their youth, those choices could and do affect the rest of their lives and the lives of their families–It is therefore critical that young men make wise choices and life affirming decisions. They need to adopt mentors that are godly and wise and listen and learn. Otherwise, before we know it, Godly influence will disappear and anarchy will reign supreme.

Hard to teach, hard to do–but, when we follow and honor God–He blesses us; and allows us to bless those in our lives. We are not disqualified by age or gender–We all are called to a critical mission.

God Bless You

As for you, Titus, promote the kind of living that reflects wholesome teaching. Teach the older men to exercise self-control, to be worthy of respect, and to live wisely. They must have sound faith and be filled with love and patience.

Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers.[a] Instead, they should teach others what is good. These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes,[b] to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God.

In the same way, encourage the young men to live wisely. And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching

Posted in A Father's Love, Devotions, Holiness, Marraige, spiritual warfare, wisdom, worship

Victors and Victory 2 Timothy 4 Part 2

What makes this amazing journey a true victory?  As an athlete, I was never a star.  My brother was amazing–won decathlon 2 out of 3 years and finished 2nd the middle year by 10 points–sporting a cast on his right arm. He was the fastest most gifted runner we knew.  Me, history explains, not so much…my coach said it best, “Well Smith can’t catch, but he sure is slow!” So, early on, I learned that for me it truly was a victory to simply finish the race and fight the good fight.

Paul was, by far, a greater spiritual athlete. He completely embraced the faith he sought to destroy.  He focused his ministry upon the people he was raised and trained to abhor. He taught salvation by faith–when his legal righteousness was above reproach–he was a Christian superstar. Yet, on this day, as his final appeals were winding down and Nero was soon to take his head, Paul faced the truth–HE FOUGHT THE GOOD FIGHT, FINISHED THE RACE and kept the faith. He realized this marathon was not about the medals; it was about the journey and the struggle.

As he was sharing his heart with Timothy, he expressed his loneliness, his regret for not using John Mark–and his gratitude to Luke and to God who had remained along side.  Paul never expected to win the race or win the fight–that was for God.  He only expected to finish strong and fight to the end–a great goal.

As for us–we are called to follow Paul’s example–Phil 4:9-“ Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” If we will embrace what is tough, focus on those no one else will, and keep battling until God calls us home; even if you are not a christian decathlete–you can run, fight and finish–ready to claim the reward for which you were prepared. Not a bad trade off!

God Bless You

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

Do your best to come to me quickly, 10 for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry. 12 I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. 13 When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.

14 Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done. 15 You too should be on your guard against him, because he strongly opposed our message.

16 At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. 17 But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.