The hymn for today is a shout of praise for the greatness of our God.
Play it on MuseScore for a limited time.
Saturday, April 30, 2016
Today I am reposting an article from a couple of years ago, that I re-discovered on a thumb drive. It is a hard teaching, but I pray that it will bear fruit in these desperate, trying times.
Open Your Doors
William F. Maddock
(reprinted by permission)
I was driven to think about Lazarus. As I walked those paths and trod those rows, I was driven to think about Lazarus. I was also driven to think about slander and judgment, condemnation and death.
I saw how most who come into these areas only do so to get their idea of exercise by watching others who are getting actual exercise, but I also saw some few that live their lives in the service of those others who find themselves in need.
Jesus used the story of Lazarus and the rich man to teach. He used it to teach about self-praise and self-righteousness, and the unfounded condemnation of others, and the dangers that attend such attitudes.
It is very easy—and very deadly—to assume that you know the contents of another person’s heart and the intentions of their soul. During the time I have been on this adventure I have seen varying reactions from those who have known me before—accusations of sin to frustration and coldness all the way to joyful surprise at what God is doing in my life.
The major thing I have found is the depth of my own misconceptions about those others who are living this adventure. I have lost nothing—and (Oh!) the things which I have gained! For more than a brief time I have watched as wicked people have fought tooth and nail against anyone who would stand to help those who are in need, instead striving to keep them swept under the rug, out of view and out of the minds of those whose votes they would buy and do crave.
The Lord brought me here and has protected me here and will continue to work to see that His will is done in this dark, wicked, and sin-filled world. Do you think the arm of God is too short to also protect you? Do you still dare to call yourself a person of faith? Do you preside over a church that claims that its treasures are in heaven, yet still bars and locks its doors on earth against those who are in need? Do you still refuse to see how many needy people could be sleeping in those pews? Trust me, I do know that many of you are in areas that simply do not show such a desperate need among those who live around your church. I do also know, however, that there are those among you who cower in fear for the earthly possessions that you—simply for matters of convenience—keep stored and mounted in the sanctuary of your church while refusing to trust God to protect those very things that you insist upon leaving mounted in that church.
Do you really not see the sin from which you suffer? Does your pride run so deep? If I—who ran so far and so long from the path I now walk—can find myself so thoroughly and completely supplied and protected, then surely one so righteous as yourself need have no fear from the powerless, needy and hungry people of the world.
Think about this; ponder upon it and weep: there are so many congregations that are so proud of their “missionary” efforts (they will go to the ends of the earth to find converts for the Lord, and are so proud of that that they even put “missionary” in their congregation’s name), yet how few of them are so proudly willing to venture into the center of their own cities to serve the desperate who are within their own grasp!
A few days ago, a youth group was bussed in to serve food and clothing to the poor—so that they could be photographed and their parents could ew and ah and coo at the photos of their children working for the Lord! Would they have still come if there were no cameras involved?
Those who seek to serve out of the sincerity of their hearts do not seek to have the event recorded for posterity. They do it because it needs to be done—not to receive the applause and accolades of their friends, family and neighbors. The Lord sees the desires of their hearts and the content of their characters—and that is enough for them.
Those who fight against the needs of the poor and who fight to keep the downtrodden swept under the rug and out of sight/out of mind are not good people; they are people who are openly and fervently fighting against God. They are not people that you should vote for, applaud, or follow.
Why do you complain about the government that rules over you—the government that you have elected—when you keep on voting for people such as these. If you really want good, righteous government, then stop listening to carefully crafted sound bites and start listening to God. If you would listen to God—really listen to Him—and vote for those who really do know God personally, then what possible room for complaints could there be? And if you steadfastly refuse to do so, then what possible right for complaints could there be?
Those who do the will of God will find the blessings of God, while those who steadfastly fight the will of God will suffer the consequences of those misguided and wasteful efforts.
How can it be sinful to follow the calling of the Lord upon your life? Does God not know all of the circumstances surrounding that call? If He does not then why do you call Him God?
He knows all things and will deal with all things. There is nothing that resides beyond His power. There is nothing that resides beyond His reach. Thankfully, there is nothing that resides beyond His grace.
All things are within Him and through Him and because of Him. All things are therefore within the reach of His power and His mercy and His grace. There is nothing that is beyond Him. He has accomplished all things. That, quite necessarily, includes all things that are of such dire concern to you and yours.
If you really are of genuine faith in Jesus Christ, then this leaves you with only one reasonable response: obey Him. Listen to His call, follow Him and obey Him. Show the trust of Him that you claim is in your heart and open your doors.
Friday, April 29, 2016
Thursday, April 28, 2016
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Monday, April 25, 2016
Sunday, April 24, 2016
How often do you ponder your struggles with sin? Do you ever do so? If you don’t you will never have the complete realization of the full depth and breadth and boundlessness of God’s grace upon you.
Think on the time when you did not know, and think on the times when, though you do know, you still fail. Very often I find myself in such a mood that I need to be convinced (or, as the case may be, re-convinced) of the facts: Whatever my circumstance, it is better than I deserve.
At the risk of you, Dear Reader, thinking too highly of yourself, let me make my point clearer. More than most other people, I can look back on the time (20 years of time) when, as an adult, I was the most virulent form of atheist. I would angrily deny God, rage at the mere mention of anything of faith. I would mock people of faith—especially those of Christian faith—mercilessly. And I had gotten so good at that self-deception that it even came to the point that a local newspaper, seeking a debate in their opinion pages, asked me to write an article in which I would defend my views.
I never wrote that article.
For once in my miserable life I decided to be honest about myself and told them that I’m just a guy. I was so good at what I was doing that I even had trained journalists completely fooled.
It would still be some years before I would know how dreadful a fool I was. The one wearing the jester’s hat was not them, but me.
Truly, when a person has—whether they knew it or not—already rejected the Truth, by what means do they discern a lie?
I was a wicked, evil person—and so were you.
Oh, don’t go running for the exit, now! You know it’s true! Of course it’s true, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God 1. And we know that the author, there, does not consider this to be some triviality, to be treated with some blasé, laissez-fair attitude, because that same man also writes that the wages of sin is death 2.
Surely, you consider death to be a serious matter, especially when it might involve you, or one you love. I hope so, because it is. We are, in fact, talking about eternal matters, here.
There are churches—and some of them very prominent ones—that do not seem to agree. It is from personal experience that I write to you, now. Many years ago I came into acquaintance with a young, married couple, with the woman being fabulously attractive—and, not being properly bonded to her husband., she thought it was perfectly fine to seek out the company of other men—even with her husband in tow. I would show up at a church function and she would abandon her husband to accompany me. I sought whatever escape was available at the time, of course. I was amazed at her ability to zero in on the pain of any man—except that of her own husband, who would stand there mortified at what she was doing in front of, not only him, but at times, the entire congregation.
Truly this woman was either shameless, or brainless—possibly both. The fact that I wound up accused, rather than her makes one wonder about the leadership of that place, as well. As it is written, “and you are proud! Should you not rather grieve?” 3. I tell you, steer well clear of a place such as that!
Do you see, were I not well aware of my own weaknesses and under the close guard from above, what could have happened; what consequences might have freely flowed?
This is why I ask you about your sin. Have you pondered it? Have you considered, seriously considered, the dreadful consequences from which you have been set free? Your eternity hangs in the balance, and Satan prowls about, like a lion, seeking whom he may devour! 4
Jesus tells us, in Luke’s account 5, to prosecute ourselves so that we will not be the avenue through which other people are tempted, that it would be better for us to be drowned in the sea.
Do you think that might be important enough to listen to, or do you enjoy the wrath of God coming upon you? It is only the fool that invites their own demise when another course is available.
How senseless it is to invite into your life eternal destruction when another course is shouting out to all who will hear and respond, in faith, to the voice that calls to them.
Yet how few respond, with that still, small voice being drowned out by Partytown, USA! How often do I see people come into our ministry homeless and destitute—but, oh, they have their music players and “smart” phones tuned in and turned up—loud—to the latest distractions, headphones plastered to their heads like plastic appendages from hell!
Satan will do everything he can to keep you bound and chained to that darkness of hopelessness and despair. If your ears cause you to sin, cut them off and throw them away! Better to go into Heaven with no ears, than, keeping your ears, be cast into Hell! 6
Silence is not an enemy, but a friend that allows you to tune into and hear the very voice of salvation and grace, being the very voice of God. Turn off your gadgets and listen for the voice of the One who calls.
Tonight I watched a movie, so what am I talking about to you? The movie I watched was put out by a company called Pure Flix. It is called, “Do You Believe?”, and at the very start it puts up on a black screen a translation of the admonition of James that faith without works is dead. 7
And that still, small voice was neither.
By the end of this movie I was fighting tears. Just look at the cast: Sean Astin, Mira Sorvino, Cybill Shepherd, Lee Majors, Brian Bosworth, and Ted McGinley, with some of these serving as associate producers as well as giving their acting talents to the enterprise.
As the movie finished, I prayed thanksgiving for having been allowed to find and watch such a wonderful use of technology that, far too often gets turned to the services of Hell.
It is not normative, in today’s world, for such an enterprise to see the light of life, and when it does you can be certain that the minions of Hell will raise a ruckus all around it, and try to drown it out so that whatever effect it might have would be minimized. Satan is far from pleased at this movie’s release.
Far more often what we find are constructions that are simply designed to drown out the voice of Heaven’s calling. So why do we fill our senses with such bilge?
That still, small voice has a tendency to tell us things that, while perfectly true, we do not want to hear. Remember, though, that it is the Truth that will set you free, and not the demons’ lies inspired by Satan and carried out by his thralls. They will tell you what you want to hear, but God will tell you what you need to know. Satan would keep you on an endless treadmill of despair, but God will give you rest. Hell will spew out fear, but God will bring you peace.
In the midst of life’s inevitable and unavoidable trials peace is a quite remarkable thing. When we are faced with tasks we cannot accomplish or with obstacles we cannot overcome peace comes not from within, but from above. It comes from a source that we can neither fathom, nor master, nor control. It comes from God. It comes from Jesus Christ.
There is no other source for the peace that will bring you through the attacks of the Devil’s delights. Oh, please hear me! For I spent many long years in the struggles that many of you live with every day, thinking yourself sufficient, thinking there is no other way, thinking there is no one there to help you.
In the words of the Newsboys song: “Hallelujah for the Cross!” The pain of separation from God, which for us would be eternal, has been taken up, removed, and cast away by One who is of infinite breadth and depth and length and strength and power and value and worth. There is therefore now no need for us to suffer it, for it has been taken away by Jesus Christ. The infinite conquers the depraved. By the shedding of His own life’s blood He spears the hell-borne pride that would separate us from our eternal Father—and kills it!
All we need do is recognize and repent of our sin and filth and rebellion and greed and lust and arrogance and self-aggrandizing foolishness and turn to depend wholly and completely upon the Savior who went to our cross for us. All we need to do is recognize and repent—and let Jesus do the rest, and indeed, God will bring you peace!
3-1 Corinthians 5:1
4-1 Peter 5:8
5-Luke 17:1-3a (in the NIV it is the first paragraph of the chapter)
6-Matthew 5:29-30; 18:9; Mark 9:42-48
Saturday, April 23, 2016
Friday, April 22, 2016
Thursday, April 21, 2016
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Monday, April 18, 2016
Sunday, April 17, 2016
Saturday, April 16, 2016
Friday, April 15, 2016
Thursday, April 14, 2016
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Monday, April 11, 2016
Sunday, April 10, 2016
Saturday, April 9, 2016
Friday, April 8, 2016
Thursday, April 7, 2016
Wednesday, April 6, 2016
Tuesday, April 5, 2016
Monday, April 4, 2016
Sunday, April 3, 2016
Saturday, April 2, 2016
Friday, April 1, 2016
"When My Savior Paid the Cost!" tells why we embrace the cross,
And "To God Be Glory" speaks of God's vindication of His saints.
Play them on MuseScore for a limited time.
And "To God Be Glory" speaks of God's vindication of His saints.
Play them on MuseScore for a limited time.