Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, But the Lord weighs the heart.
A couple of years ago we were visiting our son in Germany. He is in the United States Army and is stationed there. I was able to do something that most men dream of, drive on the Autobahn. It was a fun experience and one I will never forget. The autobahn is Germany’s version of our interstate system. They are similar in the fact that they are both made of concrete and/or asphalt. Both have lines painted on either side and down the lanes. Both have safety rails in spots. They both have signs every few miles telling you the exit ramp numbers and other valuable information. Today they are both used for the same reason, to allow people to travel easily from one area to another, but they have very different origins and original purposes. Hitler devised the Autobahn to be able to move weapons and his military easily across the country. He had world domination on his mind. President Eisenhower created our interstate system to be able to move people out of harm’s way in case of a nuclear attack. He wanted to make sure the American people could get to safety if needed. Both look like similar systems, but they were built with different motives. Our motives are important.
In Proverbs 21:2, Solomon is reminding us to do the right thing for the right reasons. Why? Because the Lord our God examines our hearts. He knows our motives. We can do all of the service to our Lord that we want, but unless we do it for the right reasons, it is meaningless. You may be a Sunday School teacher or a Deacon in your church. Are you doing it because no one else would? Or are you doing it because you love Jesus? All of our service to Him needs to be done with the right motives. They may both look the same on the outside, but Jesus knows our hearts.
“For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men, or God? If I were still striving to please men, I would not be a bond servant of God.” Galatians 1: 10
The Apostle Paul is calling the Galatian Church to examine their own hearts. Were they serving to be seen or for the praise of other people? Or were they serving because they wanted to serve the Lord? Again both look the same on the outside, but God knows our hearts. We should never serve, just to impress others or just for the sake of serving. God deserves passion in our service to Him. God deserves us pouring our hearts into our relationship with Him. We can fool other people day in and day out with our service. We will never fool God. He can see straight into our hearts. He knows the motives behind everything that we do for Him.
If you are serving God, check your motives. Make sure that they are pure. If you are not serving, stop and think about everything that Jesus has done for and promised to you and get up and put some passion in your Christian walk.
"Behold I am coming quickly..." Revelation 22:12
A few weeks back I was in our greenhouse starting our seeds for the spring. I have enjoyed planting in a greenhouse ever since I was in Horticulture class in High School. I started a few different kinds of heirloom tomatoes and peppers to plant in the garden in late April. My wife enjoys flowers, lots of flowers, so most of the shelves in the greenhouse are filled with vincas, marigolds, zinnias, petunias and daisies that will go into the front yard. The day that I had set aside to plant all of these seeds was during the week that was so bitterly cold. That week it was down in the teens at night and didn’t feel much better during the day. I was beginning to question my own sanity as I was carrying watering can after watering can full of water into the greenhouse. I began to think, “Do I really need to be doing this right now?” It sure would be a lot warmer in the house. The thought had popped into my head that this task could probably wait until a later date. Maybe until it was warmer, maybe a day the wind wasn’t blowing, maybe I should even wait until the spring, after all the weather would be nicer, but I realized that it would be too late if I waited. If I didn’t prepare the seed then, they would come up too late and I wouldn’t be able to plant a garden at all. I knew even though it was cold then, that Spring was coming and I had to be ready. Even though Spring seemed to be a far off day. I knew it was coming and I had to be ready.
In Revelation 22:12, Jesus is trying to help us to understand His Second Coming. He wants the world to be ready. When Jesus says here that He is coming quickly, He doesn’t mean in a few seconds or a few minutes. He is telling us that when He comes back, it will be all of a sudden. So we must be ready. Christians will be making breakfast, and never get to eat it. Christians will be running bath water to bathe, and never make it to the tub. Jesus will come back and He will take us with Him. Now that is great news, isn’t it? But are you ready for that day? Will Jesus be pleased with the life that you have lived?
On the other hand when that day comes, the lost will be buying movie tickets, holding a menu trying to decide what to order for supper and driving to work, but Jesus comes back. And without Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, their time is up. The time that God has given us to be prepared will be over. No more invitational hymns. No more chances to kneel beside the bed and pray. Time is up.
We as Christians need to make sure that we are ready and prepared for that day. We also need to help the lost around us to be ready too. Many of them may not realize that time is running out. They may not realize the urgency of time being short. We must live, witness and serve as if Jesus were coming back today.
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you…” James 4:8
I guess I have always raised some kind of livestock, but I will have to admit that my cows have always been my favorite. There is something satisfying about seeing them grazing in the pasture and calling to you when they see you walking near the feed trough. If I had to name my second favorite farm animal, it would have to be my chickens. I have a dozen hens in a pen that is about 20 foot by 15 foot. Every morning I walk in the pen with the feed bucket in hand and I gladly swap the feed for the fresh eggs. I will have to admit that during this time of the year it really isn’t a fair swap, because they aren’t laying too many eggs. One thing that I have always done as a treat for the girls is I put two slices of bread in my pocket every morning as I head out. When they see me coming many of them will run up to the door to greet me. Now I don’t think a chicken can actually smile, but it kind of looks like they are. After I pour the laying crumbles out, I take the two slices of bread and start to break it up into small pieces and throw it to them. Over the years I have noticed that chickens can have their own personalities. When I am breaking the bread some will literally stand on my feet hoping that I will drop some. Some will stand close so that they can see which direction that I am going to throw the pieces. There are a few that will eat the bread out of my hands. However, there are others in the flocks that keep their distance from me. It’s not that they don’t want the bread, but they just don’t want to be close to me. Oddly enough, the prettiest hen in the pen will stay the furthest from me. Maybe she thinks she is too pretty to get excited about seeing me?
Chickens are a lot like people, or maybe it is the other way around. There are people that want to be as close to God as possible. Many love to just be at His feet or in His hands and want to spend time with Him. Many enjoy the blessings of being close to Him, but so many others want a blessing, but don’t want to be close to Him. Many want to get as much as they can from Him, but want to stay as far away from Him as possible. Beloved the real blessings come from having that close, intimate relationship with Him. True blessings come from being in His presence during worship or your own prayer time. Yes, every person in the world experiences God’s blessings in some degree. I don’t know about you, but I want to experience God’s full blessings. Can I get an “Amen”? I can’t think of a better time of the year to start getting closer to God, during the time of the year that we celebrate God’s ultimate demonstration of drawing near to us, when He sent Jesus.
“For all who are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.” Romans 8:14
The southeastern part of our Country has suffered tremendous damage this year from Hurricanes Florence and Matthew. Many people have lost everything. We need to be sure to keep them in our prayers, as well as praying for the relief workers. We have been very fortunate around our little corner of the world this hurricane season. I was out visiting church members when Hurricane Matthew started coming through our area. When I was trying to make my way home, I was met by a downed tree near the Vance and Granville County line. Over the next few hours quite a few trees were blown over blocking traffic and taking down power lines. Fortunately or family was without power only for about 20 hours. We were without power for 10 days with Hurricane Fran! The wind took down tall pines as well as mighty oaks. The trees fell because they were not yielding to the wind. Now I know the trees didn’t have a choice in the matter, but hear me out. The wind was blowing in one direction, but rather than going in the direction of the wind, they fell over, making a mess and creating problems.
The Holy Spirit is like a wind for us. He is a still small voice. He is the part of the Trinity of God that guides and directs us. It is our job as Christians to yield our lives to Him. He knows what needs to be accomplished and we don’t. When we don’t yield to Him, we can quickly make a mess of things. In Acts we see the Ethiopian eunuch was traveling down the road reading in the book of Isaiah. Scripture was describing Jesus as being the Lamb of God. The Holy Spirit knew that the eunuch didn’t understand what he was reading. In Chapter 8 verse 29 we see this, “And the Spirit said to Phillip, “Go up and join this chariot.” Phillip yielded to the Spirit’s plan and the eunuch was saved and baptized. He no doubt went back to his country and led people to Christ as well. But what if Phillip had not yielded to the direction that the Holy Spirit was taking him? The man in the chariot may have never been saved. Phillip would have made a mess of God’s plan to use him to lead to the man to the Lord.
God doesn’t have to have us to accomplish His will, but He desires to use us. He wants to involve us in what He is doing. The Holy Spirit will let you know how you can serve each day. Sadly, I believe a lot of Christians have turned a deaf ear to the Holy Spirit. We know we need to witness to a loved one, but do we? We know that God would have us to reach out to those that are down and out, but do we listen? We know that we should be serving in our church or in local missions, but are we yielding our lives to God’s plan? Each day we need to stop and listen to the Holy Spirit directing us. Don’t make a mess of things. Listen to the Holy Spirit and yield your life to Him.
“… If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord”, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9
Early in August we took a trip to the Shenandoah Valley and to Luray Virginia. We had been in the Linville Caverns but I had heard that the one at Luray was much bigger. So we decided to take our vacation there. The Cavern certainly did not disappoint. It was awe inspiring and beautiful. On the second day that we were there, I saw the cleaning lady headed toward our hotel room. I stepped outside and told her that all we needed was three clean bath rags. She looked at me with a puzzled look on her face, paused for a moment and handed me three hand towels. I said, “I am sorry, I should have said bath cloths”. Bath rags is a term that we still use but it came from a day when people cut up their old cloth, fabric or feed bags to make a rag to bathe with. Today we are a little more sophisticated and we buy readymade cloths. But again, she had a look on her face as if I were speaking a foreign language. So I took matters into my own hands and reached on the cart and picked up three bath cloths. Her face lit up and she replied, “OH, you mean wash cloths.” I guess I was then the one with the puzzled look on my face, but I thanked her and went back to my room. Later that afternoon our son, which is in the United States Army and is stationed in Germany called and I told him the story. He told me that he has met people from all around America and the world during his service and most folks call them wash cloths. I guess ultimately it doesn’t matter what you call them, as long as you use one to bathe.
But it does matter what we call Jesus. In my talking with people I often hear people refer to Him as “The Man Upstairs” or “The Big Guy”. I have heard people of different religions call Jesus “A good man” or “a prophet”. I see well-meaning people with bumper stickers that read, “Jesus is my co-pilot”. I have seen a t-shirt that reads, “Jesus is my homeboy”.
The Bible is crystal clear; there is one thing that Jesus must be called and that is, “Lord”. The Apostle Paul puts it as plainly as it can be put, Jesus must be called Lord. It doesn’t matter if you call Him “Friend” if you don’t call Him “Lord”. “Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” John 20:28. Even good old Doubting Thomas realized the need to call Jesus “Lord”. Beloved ultimately nothing that you do in this life matters unless you profess Jesus to be your personal Lord and Savior. Scripture tells us that unless Jesus is Lord of our life, we do not have an eternal hope. If you have never asked Jesus to come into your heart and proclaimed Him with your mouth as Lord and Savior, please do so today.
“And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25:46
This year our missions group decided to set aside the week of July 9-14 to do local missions. We did a V.B.S. in a senior center in the mornings and a nursing home in the afternoons. Our group of 23 did a couple of cookouts and played games with the kids at one of the local orphanages. We chaperoned two dances at Murdoch as well as cleaned out and replanted several flower beds. The C.C.M. Hut needed help moving to their ministry into a new building, so we lent a hand. On the last day we did a summer cookout for a cottage of residents and the staff at Murdoch. It was a busy and blessed week. The only hiccup came on Saturday night when half of the group, including my family and myself, came down with a stomach bug. I know most of you have had the bug where you are vomiting at the same time that you are having the upset stomach. It is miserable. In my opinion, as far as viruses go, this is one of the worst to have. There is nothing that you can do to get comfortable. You can’t lie down, you can’t set up and as soon as you think that you might be able to rest, you have to get back up and run to the bathroom again. It is absolute torture.
As I began to feel a little better that Sunday afternoon, I was reminded that the lost, those that don’t have a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, are in for a lot worse suffering. People will tell me that they don’t believe in hell, but they believe in heaven. What most people don’t realize is that the Bible talks more about hell than it does heaven. Revelation 21:8 describes it as a “fiery lake with burning brimstone”. This fire not only scorches, but burning brimstone burns the eyes. It also burns the lungs with every breath that you take. Mark 9:43 describes it as a place of an “unquenchable fire.” It never goes out. Matthew 13:50 says that hell is a “furnace of fire” and “there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Ever you ever hurt so badly that you sat there and just cried and ground your teeth? Jesus Himself says that is what hell is like. Luke 16: 19-31 we see Lazarus is there in “torment”. Revelation 14:10-11, “he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented day and night with fire and brimstone… and the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night…”
Only time will help those of us that suffer through the stomach bug. Time will not help the lost, only a relationship with Jesus can prevent the eternal suffering. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever shall believe in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16. Make sure that you have the only immunization that is available for eternal suffering. Ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins and to be your Lord and Savior.
“For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot should say,” Because I am not a hand, I am not part of the body”, it is not for this reason any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body”, it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as he desired.
1 Corinthians 12:14-18
About a month ago I was outside working in the yard. I had just finished mowing and trimming the grass. Then it came time for my least favorite chore, hedge trimming. We have about 20 shrubs in the front and side of our home. I had gotten around to shrub 14 when my electric cord kept getting in the way of the clippers. I shook the hedge clippers several times to keep the cord from getting cut. Then I messed up. The cord fell across the hedge trimmer again and I reached to save the cord from getting cut. Then it happened, I cut the cord and my finger. Susan took me to the emergency room and ten stitches later I returned home with my finger in a splint. I only had to wear the splint for a week, but I was amazed at the end of the seven days, my finger didn’t want to bend! As I am typing this, it has been five weeks and the use of my finger has slowly gotten back to about normal. I was astonished at how quickly a body part can lose its usefulness when it isn’t exercised. God gave us our body parts were to be used.
As I thought about my finger, I couldn’t help but to be reminded of what the Apostle Paul was saying about the church in these verses. Each Christian makes up the body of the church. He emphasizes that we are ALL a part. Everyone is important. My body could tell that my right index finger was no longer able to scratch, type, shave, and push down on a steak knife or text. That caused my other fingers to have to do jobs that they weren’t used to doing. The body only works at peak efficiency when all of its parts are working together, each one doing its job. Many churches today are struggling because too many Christians are doing nothing more than, “riding a pew”. If you look at a list of church officers or a nominating committee report, you will see the same names in several positions. Why, because some of the parts of the church body are not working. If you are a part of a church, then God has you there for a reason, to serve Him. Use the gifts and abilities that God has given you to further His kingdom. Don’t just sit there, serve. Be a useful and functioning part of the body of Christ.
“That you may prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world.” -Philippians 2:15
Several weeks ago I was headed to church early one Sunday morning. It was the first Sunday of the month so our men were meeting for breakfast. While I was headed down the road, I decided to listen to a little bit of my Leonard Skynard cd. Their song “Simple Man” came on. Most people will recognize it as being the theme song for the tv show, “Mountain Men”. The song and the show are both favorites of mine. As I was listening to the song it reminded me of how those men live on the show. They don’t go to the grocery store, rarely ever go to town and aren’t affected by much of what we have to deal with on a daily basis. They don’t see littered roads. Those men don’t worry about being shot while they are eating at a restaurant or at the movie. They don’t have to look at curse words painted under bridges, on the back of street signs, or sexually suggestive stickers on cars. I thought to myself, “Those mountain guys have it made; that is the life to live”. I had myself convinced that they are living a life that most people, including myself only dreamed of. Then I heard the Lord tell me something as clearly as He has ever spoken to me. He said, “This isn’t time for Christians to isolate themselves from the world’s problems. It is time for the church to act like the church and make an impact in society.” Well, as usual, God is right. Right now, the world needs Christians to act and live like Christians more than ever before. We have stopped being salt and light in our world. Way too many Christians have hidden their faith. We are allowing the world to shape us. God expects the opposite to be true. Christians are the ones that are supposed to be standing up for what is right and calling sin what it is, sin.
The Apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit knew what the church at Philippi and then church in 2018 would be dealing with. He knew that we would be facing a sin filled world. He knew that lives would be filled with every kind of depravity known to man. He also knew that they church sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ was the only hope that this world had. Billy Graham once said, “Our chaotic, confused world has no greater need than to hear the Gospel truth”.
I want to end this column with a challenge. May each of us as Christians be faithful witnesses in our society to the Good News of Jesus Christ. May each Church regardless of denomination, proclaim publically that there is hope in this lost and dying world, and that hopes name is Jesus Christ. We live in a crooked and perverse generation, may we as God’s children be salt and light in it. Church, don’t give up.
4/20/2018 - Special Music
4/20/2018 - Evening Service
4/21/2018 - Evening Service
4/22/2018 - Morning Service
4/22/2018 - Evening Service