Friday, September 22, 2017

SEPTEMBER 22 "HOW BADLY WE WANT THE APPROVAL OF OTHERS"

Hezekiah has just come off a great experience and victory with God. Hezekiah was told by Isaiah that he was going to die, "to put his house in order", but yet Hezekiah turns his face against the wall and begins to cry and petition God for his life.  God speaks to Isaiah, tells him to go back to Hezekiah and tell him He has heard his prayers and will add 15 years to his life. Today, however, is a different day and a different story. A not so desperate Hezekiah. He is visited by some dignitaries from a place he would least have expected. Sometimes the people that dislike us the most are the people we want to like us the most. It's amazing to see how often people fall into this trap of wanting the popular kids at school, or the in crowd, to so desperately like them. Sometimes in order to gain favor with these unrighteous, but popular people, many of us did things we were ashamed of later or that went against our conscience. There is a tendency in every one of us (the people of God included) to want to be liked by the powerful, inflectional and popular. Hezekiah is mesmerized by these powerful men, even though they are the heathens of all heathens. These are men, from a nation that opposes everything the God of Israel is for. They are an immoral, ungodly, perverse people and nation, but they are also a powerful and well respected one too. Just like the ungodly today. The ungodly, immoral, unclean celebrates of today are not looked down upon, but rather, looked up to. Nothing has changed much! Hezekiah does not seek God this time, he is enamored by this entourage and flattered that they have come to visit him, just the lowly King of Israel and he shows them all the treasuries of God. Little does Hezekiah know, they will one day come back and attack Israel and take away all those treasuries. God confronts Hezekiah, through Isaiah, "what did these men say and where were they from?".  Isaiah is going to have Hezekiah incriminate himself here, "they are from Babylon". He gets Hezekiah to confess, that he knew where they were from and from there Isaiah begins to pronounce the judgement that will now follow. The question to ask ourselves is, when the enemies of God come around us, flattering and schmoozing with us, how do we respond. Are we so enamored by them, like the rest of the world that we just fall down and worship (so to speak) or do we not worship at their altar and not desire their approval. Many Christian celebrities and athletes that do truly have a genuine conversion experience, never make it, because they so desire the approval of the rich, mighty and powerful of this world. It is the Hezekiah effect in them and it lives in each and every one of us, if we will be honest. The difference between them perhaps, and the rest of us, is we fight it, resist it and stand our grand. Read Psalm 1, "blessed is he that does not stand in the counsel of the ungodly or sit in the seat of scoffers". When we yearn so desperately for their approval, we will constantly fall and be tripped up and if we desire it so much, we may trade in, a genuine salvation experience with God, for the approval of the ungodly and immoral and sad as that may be, it happens more often than we would like to admit.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

SEPTEMBER 21 "THIS ONE THING DO RIGHT?

     IF there's one thing King Hezekiah did right, was HE PRAYED.  Twice in our text today we read, in response to Hezekiah's prayers, Ch. 37 verse 21, "This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Because you have prayed to me...."  and  Ch. 38 verse 4, "This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears".  BECAUSE YOU HAVE PRAYED....remember those words. And it could equally be said that, because you have NOT prayed....that we can rightly say, events have just easily, taken a turn for the worse. We cannot pretend, just to appease our own conscience, that prayer does not impact our lives and the lives of others. This would be just short of insanity. There is to much circumstancial evidence to every point to any other verdict, than the verdict that prayer does change events and lives as we know it.  We have to accept that because we have prayed our lives are different and we must also accept that because we have NOT prayed our lives are also different.  Prayer is the difference maker. Hezekiah did some foolish things in his life, but there's one thing he did right and that was he was a praying man and it is when he stopped praying and seeking God that he falls flat on his face.
     Many of us have our priorities backwards. We are committed, we are faithful and reliable people and faithful to church, we do many things right but the one thing we do not do right is....PRAY.  "Why?", you may ask...to many reasons to consider, but we know there are seasons when prayer pays great dividends and there are other seasons we wonder why we pray at all and those are the seasons that take many out and once we have come out of the lifesytle of prayer, and managed to do without, it is hard to get back into it. Every congregation hates a sermon on prayer as much as they love a sermon on prayer.  They love it for the part that tells of all the possibilities through prayer, but they hate the part that in all reality, truth be known, they still will not pray.
     The bible commands us to "pray and pray without ceasing". The bible promises us that "the fervant prayers of a righteous man availeth much".  There is no two ways around those scriptures and many more that admonish us to pray. We must make sure that we don't pray to be religious as perhaps our parents did. That we don't pray to be seen of men, as some disciples do. That we don't pray to appease our consciences, as sinners do. We pray because we have a clear conviction and understanding that prayer can change the course of lives and the lives of others. We pray because we know it is our civic duty and responsibility as a Christian and not to pray is to neglect the greatest power ever divested to any being on earth or in Heaven above.  Not to pray is to be negligent in the most critical area of our Christian lives and only eternity will reveal to us, what could have been, had we only....PRAYED!  If there's one thing you ever do right as a Christian, let it be that you prayed.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

SEPTEMBER 20 "SATAN'S TESTIMONIALS"

     I WAS not around approx 3000 years ago when this situation took place with the King of Assyria, but I sure do recognize the voice and the rhetoric, ie: "Don't trust in the Lord".  Pastor's and Spiritual Leaders spend most of their time trying to convince God's people to trust in him while the individual and the masses of Christians face a bombardment of attacks, day in and day out, a voice that speaks to us in our conscience and says basically the same words the King of Assyria Spoke, which are: "don't trust in the Lord, where was He for so and so and where was He for that family, that situation and what makes you think it will be any different for you!". The enemy will remind us of the sister that was not healed of cancer, he will remind us of the family that did have to file bankruptcy, or the single mom that did lose her job, her home and then Satan will come to us and tell us, "what makes you think it will be different for you!".  The enemy strikes us at the heart, he strikes us where are greatest fears lie.  When are security is threatened, our livelihood, our children and of course our lives are threatened, through disease, sickness or threats, these are the areas that leave us most vulnerable to perhaps listen to Satan a little longer than we should and begin to consider twice about trusting in The Lord.  "After all, Suzie trusted in The Lord and she died"  "Jim trusted in God and he was laid off and lost his home", these are the thoughts we will get and they are pretty convincing, they are not at all lies, but true cases that we have witnessed. They are "Satan's Testimonials".  He (the enemy) has a whole arsenal of them and he is ready to launch them at any time when we are attempting to trust God in a difficult situation. Verse 15, "do not let Hezekiah persuade you to trust in the Lord when he says, "The Lord will surely deliver us....who of all the gods has been able to save..."  All the Israelite had to do was their homework (which they had) and they would quickly find out that it was true. 
     So what do we do? Well our options are simple, either we trust or we do not. "Okay" you would say, "I don't trust, I simply can't I am to convinced by "Satan's Testimonials". The problem is "not trusting" in God is not just a state of mind we choose, but it must be followed by action. If we don't trust God to "save us" then that means we must take matters into our own hands, it means trusting in another, it means making alliances with people we should not.  One of two things will happen when we take matters into our own hands, it will either work or fail miserably.  The latter scenario is the best option, although we will suffer we will also learn next time to simply trust in God.  My worry is the first scenario, ie: we take matters into our own hands and it works out for us! (or should I say, it seems to work out). The worse thing that could happen when you don't trust God and make an alliance with someone or something else is that it actually works out for you. This is not good!  What do you think that will do for your faith, not only in the present but for a future trial? What do you think that will do for your relationship with God if your last vivid memory of God was that you were in a sticky situation and God did not come through for you, but you came through for you or so and so came through for you or worse, Satan came through for you.  Verse 16 "This is what the king of Assyria says: Make peace with me and come out to me. Then every one of you will eat from his own wine and fig tree and drink water from his own cistern"  Had the Israelite s opted in for this option (which they didn't thanks to a Godly leader) what do you think the chances of them continuing to serve the God of Israel would have been?  What do you think your chances are of continuing to serve God once you've decided not to trust God and it works out, for what seems to be the best, in your limited understanding.
     In all reality, there is NO... "I took matters into my own hands and it worked out". In the short term it may appear as such but time will reveal that it did not work out like you thought.  There is only one option when the enemy comes to us with his "testimonials" and that is simply to ignore them. The fact that they are true is irrelevant. We simply do not know all and much will be revealed to us in eternity that will leave many of us feeling quite embarrassed that we actually thought for a second that Satan had a valid testimonial against God failing one of his children. God has never failed any of his children "let God be true and every man a liar" and time and eternity will reveal this.  There is only one option and that is always to Trust the Lord and if everything still falls apart, then we keep trusting and as we keep trusting, though all evidence points towards abandonment by God, we will see, whether it be a month, a year or a few years, that God, in the end will be shown faithful and trustworthy. If we bail, if we cut and run, then we simply become one more of Satan's Testimonials that he will use against the next brother or sister that is struggling. Question is, will you be a testimonial to the church, of God's unfailing love and faithfulness to encourage others or will you be one of Satan's testimonials to discourage others?

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

SEPTEMBER 19 "THINGS WILL CHANGE IN A LITTLE MORE THAN A YEAR"

Things will change in a little more than a year, Isaiah prophesies; and the change is going to be based on our attitudes and decisions we are making today, tomorrow, next week and next month. You think it's not big deal now, but you won't think it's not big deal, a little more than a year from now.  One of the key factors that Isaiah warns us, that is going to affect us, a little more than a year from now, is going to be our complacency. "Rise up" says the Lord. Rise up you people of power. Every sing that in church and wonder, "where are those people of power?"  Is it because we just know too much about each other or they simply are not there? Isaiah continues, "the harvest will not come and there will be no fruit, tremble you complacent. If I told you I could tell you your future and it would not be sorcery, it would be from God, just call me, get with me, my phone would be ringing constantly. Well, here it is....here's your future!  "Thanks" you say, for the negative message today!" NO, it's a positive one! Why? Because of the very reason that we all want to know our future; and that reason is, if we don't like it, maybe we can alter it. And I know the message today is that we can definitely alter our future. A little more than a year from now we can be well, prospering and getting along fine, why? Because we changed our attitude, fore-knowing where it would lead us. We got a startling revelation that complacency will ruin all that I'm striving for and want out of life. Complacency is not red, with horns a pitchfork and a tail. Complacency is not a spirit that we can say, "I rebuke you in the name of Jesus", complacency is an attitude, that we must fight and conquer. If there's one thing we can learn about God through the bible and that is, that He is always more than willing to change his plans, for the better, if His people are willing to rise up, take action, repent, whatever the case may be, one thing we can always count on, God is always more than willing to scrap the script and write a new one, if it's in your favor! He holds the script in His hand and He's asking you, "scrap it, write a new one or goes with this one, let me know when you decide."

Monday, September 18, 2017

SEPTEMBER 18 "EXCESSIVE FORCE"

The NFL (ironcially) issued disciplinary action on one of it's elite players for using excessive force in disciplining his son. His contract with his team was cancelled in lieu of the criminal charges against him, for using a tree branch to discipline his son, leaving marks, bruising and swelling on his son's body. No doubt there are parents out there that are too lazy to discipline their children or worse, simply just don't care! We have to deal with these children every week at Walmart. We pray that we could just have one moment alone with this child that is screaming as if he was being tortured, only to realize it's not that he's being tortured or kidnapped, he is screaming and raving because his mom told him he can't have the candy bar he grabbed by the cash register. So we have excessive discipline to no discipline and somewhere in the middle lies the balance. God is trying to give us wisdom through Isaiah, the wisdom that discipline is good, discipline is needed, but excessive discipline, discipline that is beyond the capacity of the recipient, can potentially crush and destroy, rather than bring the intended and hoped for results. "The farmer knows just what to do...God has given him wisdom, a heavy sledge is never used to thresh black cummin, rather it is beaten with a light stick...grain for bread is easily crushed....thresh it under the wheels of a cart, but don't pulverize it".  God is using all these metaphors to describe the wisdom in punishing. The Lord is getting ready to punish Israel, but in his punishment He will remember not to use excessive force, not to pulverize or He may crush them all together. God's purpose in punishment is always to heal and restore, not crush and destroy. We have churches that have no punishment, no disciplinary actions for anything. The Christians in their Church are like the kids at Walmart, totally undisciplined and unruly Christian they are! We have other Churches who have no discernment in punishing, their punishing often crushes, pulverizes and destroys, rather than redeem. Oh where, oh where do we find the balance? What is excessive and what is negligent? God speaking through Isaiah, says, "this requires wisdom and that wisdom He has given to the farmer, so the farmer can be productive and fruitful. As Parents, as Leaders, as Ministers, we desperately need this wisdom. Not everyone is to be dealt with in the same manner, go back and read the wisdom that God gives to the Farmer. In reading this passage today we should be thinking.... "I wonder if there are any that we crushed in are discipline. I wonder if there are any that could have been restored, redeemed, but we took a heavy sledge to thresh cumin and completely crushed that struggling Christian?" We always have to remember, that discipline is not to satisfy our anger, discipline is not to show everyone "who's boss", discipline is not to be vindictive, it's not a way for us to feel better, discipline is for the purpose of the one being disciplined, and in that respect, it is being administered to save them, not crush them. The discipline is being administered to restore and redeem and if we don't learn the wisdom of the farmer, we may one day have to answer for people that we crushed and pulverized in our discipline; when God wanted to redeem them, through discipline. "Lord give us the wisdom, that you have given the farmer, so we too can be productive and fruitful, Amen!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

SEPTEMBER 17 "DO MEN CRY?"

We tend to read the bible and think about what is written, but we don't think about "who wrote it". This is very nice and comforting read, in Psalms 61, "listen to my cry.....I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed..." I'm sure many women read this in their affliction and find comfort that they are not alone. And they are not alone, they are in great company; and who is their company, DAVID. King David, the Warrior, Conqueror! Women are finding great comfort in reading, poetic metaphors, not written by Ruth, Rebecca, Mary, Esther or any other woman, but by David. If today we found these writings in a private journal of a man, we thought to be a man's man, we would ex-communicate him.The only problem is, we cannot find more of a man's man, in the bible, than David. Today, we have this persona, that men do not cry and are not overwhelmed. So then why do they drink so much? Why are they so violent, so abusive? Why are they so unfaithful? Why do they come to church for a while and then disappear?  Why are they such substance abusers, why are jails & prisons mostly filled with men? David was in jail, David did not drink himself into an oblivion, David did not take out his frustrations by abusing his wife and/or children. So what did David do? He cried out to God and told God he was "overwhelmed".  Overwhelmed with responsibilities, overwhelmed by his enemies, overwhelmed by the problems in his family, in short, he was overwhelmed with Life!  We sing this song in Church, "when my heart is overwhelmed, when my heart is aching....lead me to the Rock, the Rock that's higher than I."  The women are engrossed in this song, the men are thinking, "what kind of pansy of a man would lift his hands and sing this?"  Little do they know that the song was written by a Warrior, a man that chopped of Goliath's head and killed thousands of men, a man's man, tougher than most men would ever dream to be. The question is, "do men cry, do men get overwhelmed" the answer is most definitely, "yes", the difference is, men will not admit it, rather than cry out to God as David did and get victory and dominion, they cover it up through alcohol, drugs, physical and verbal abuse towards those they love and they engage themselves infidelity to try to reassert their manhood. It causes them to quite their jobs, forsake their families and run; and yet somehow a man doesn't view that as being weak or acting like a pansy, but some how crying out to God is? The strongest men, are those who do admit they cry, even if inside; and do admit life overwhelms them and then cry out to God. I guarantee you, any Christian man that you see in your Church that seems very strong is a man who knows he is very weak He is a man that cries out to God, day in and day out and is not ashamed or embarrassed to sing, "listen to my cry, when my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock" and in so doing , God takes that man and puts him on top of the rock while other men get crushed at the bottom of the rock by the waves and storms of life.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

SEPTEMBER 16 "HOW'S YOUR RETURN ON YOUR INVESTMENT?"

In the financial world, we monitor our investments and if the return is not what we anticipated or if we suffer to many losses, we pull our money out and reinvest in something else with greater dividends. Only in The Kingdom of God do we continue to invest, on what often is not yielding the returns we would want. Only in the Kingdom of God would we continue to invest where we continually take losses. Paul is writing this letter to the Galatians, trying to save a major loss, from a major investment he has made.  Paul himself quotes "the Lord's investment in me was not in vain!".  Paul understands investment and that there should be a return on investment. Paul has greatly invested in this Church, he writes, "Oh foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ's death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of his death on the cross. How foolish can you be".  He's frustrated, he's vexed, after all the investment he made in them, that they would so easily and so quickly, be swayed back.  To be honest, I don't think Paul's letter accomplished what he perhaps was hoping it would.  It could be that Paul also realized that his letter would not change the course for them, but God inspired Paul to write it so it could change the course for us. The lesson we can learn from Paul and Jesus, is that we invest in lives with no promise of any return. We invest in lives knowing full well, there will be betrayal!  We invest in lives knowing at times it will be in vain. We continue to invest in lives when there is no dividends to cash in. We must be reminded that we invest in people's lives not for people, but for Jesus. Jesus will always be grateful for our investment in other people's lives and our dividends, for the most part, will not come to us here on earth, but are being stored up in Heaven. And that is not some sappy cliche just to make us feel better, next time someone stabs us in the back or walks away after much investment. In the physical realm, investment yields dividends here on earth, in the spiritual realm, investment yields dividends in Heaven. If what we do, we do for people, we will quickly quit the fist time we suffer loss on our investment.  If what we do, we do for Jesus and because of what Jesus did for us, then we will continue to invest, until we die, in the lives of other people because we do it not for them and we do it not for physical and earthly rewards/dividends. No doubt, there are many lives in many churches doing quite well, because of the investment of another Christian; and may that encourage us and be a portion of our reward, but if we begin to lean and depend upon that, to spur us on to invest in another life, eventually that will fail and then what, we stop investing? Take your rewards, your encouragement from wherever you can get it, but always hold to the core of your being, that you invest in others, not for them, but for Christ, and He is always grateful and He will always reward, "for great is your treasure in Heaven", says The Lord.

Friday, September 15, 2017

SEPTEMBER 15 "WE ARE STILL SO FLAWED"

     NO matter how far we think we have come as a Christian, if God is at work in your life (and I hope He is), He will always be faithful, from time to time, to remind you that you have not yet arrived.  Paul just a few verses prior has just referred to Peter twice and mentions God working through Peter's ministry and mentions Peter  as one of "those reputed to be pillars".  In another text he refers to Peter as a "super apostle". NO doubt, Peter is THE MAN!  For all the shame Peter had to endure when he forsook Christ, he has definitely made up for it with all the recognition, authority, influence and power he now holds. However, even with all that going for Peter, he is still a flawed vessel.  He is still a man who at times allows others to dictate his actions rather than Christ. He is still a man who cares what others think of him.  He is still a man who struggles with prejudices and dealing with inconsistencies in his walk with Christ. Does this sound like you? If it does, then good, we are on the right track.
     Thank God for faithful brothers who step up to the plate to rebuke us when we need it. We see way to little of this today in our relationships. Our relationships are superficial at best and hypocritical at worse. Men and Women are floundering and nobody is there to let them know. The worse thing Paul could have done is let Peter get a way with his hypocrisy. Paul could have pretended like he didn't notice Peter get up and walk away from the Gentile Christians when James arrived.  It would have been much easier to let Peter's actions go unnoticed. "Why make a scene?"  "What difference will it make if I do say something?" "Who am I to correct the great Peter?"  If Paul is human, which we know he was, then he struggled with all these thoughts.  Perhaps we need not concentrate so much on "what difference will it make if I do say something" as much as we should concentrate on the responsibility you and I have to speak out and leave the results with that individual and God.  Give God something to work with! It is not our job to be the Holy Spirit Police, running around rebuking everyone, but there are key moments when we know we ought to speak up and say something and most often we don't and that individual then continues on in their behaviour not thinking anyone notices or cares or even further convinces themselves that their conduct is not that bad, after all, if it is so bad why doesn't God or anybody correct me? Doesn't anybody see or anybody hear? Yes, they do see and hear it is simply they won't speak up, they don't care. We selfishly avoid the confrontation to preserve our own selves at the detriment of somebody else. Is this right?
     One thing for sure we can learn from this is we are all flawed vessels no mater who we are and no matter how long we've been saved. We should realize there is always room for growth, enlargement and character to be formed in us as long as we are breathing. We should be changing from day to day, from Glory to Glory in the image of Christ. Thank God for the brother or sister who risks all to let us know, our behaviour, our conduct is not in line with one who claims to be a follower of Christ.  We unfortunately never read about how Peter responded to this rebuke he received from Paul in front of the others. I'm sure it was quite embarrassing, but I am going to assume Peter took it well and was grateful to Paul for calling him on it. A Godly man will always except "due" criticism and thank those who dared to correct them. We must be both those that are willing to step up and rebuke when it is due and we must also be the ones that are also willing to accept rebuke and correction when it comes our way;  be grateful for those it comes from and not become resentful, (who do they think they are!) but rather thank God and thank them for not allowing you to continue in your hypocrisy, in your prejudices, in your temper tantrums, in your dishonesty, in your unchristian like conduct.
     No doubt, we are all flawed vessels and until the day we die,  we will always be in need of fine tuning and adjustment and (not to sound redundant) we ought always to be grateful when it comes our way because most often, people don't care and won't speak up, thence we do not have the opportunity to change because people are no longer willing to speak up, at the risk of helping others. We would rather keep silent, preserve ourselves and simply let others self destruct or continue in their demise and this is a sad state of affairs in the Church today.  Does not the scripture say, "as iron sharpens iron so does man sharpen man". Does that still apply to today? Let us not neglect the ministry that we are all called to and that is to exhort one another, encourage one another and to correct one another. These are timeless principles founded in God's word and have been put there for the edifying and the building up of the Saints in the church.  "Lord, send people, friends are way, that will lovingly speak the truth to us".  "For deceitful are the kisses of an enemy but faithful are the wounds of a friend!"

Thursday, September 14, 2017

SEPTEMBER 14 "PAUL WANTS US TO CURSE PEOPLE, YIKES!"

The Great Apostle Paul would not have been deemed so great among us 21st Century Christians. We would have distanced ourselves from him and his ministry.  We would have been quick to say, "he's not one of us", he's with the church down the street, but yet God thought quite the opposite.  We love the "Politically Correct Jesus". We love the Jesus that gets along with everybody, the Jesus that's the Peacemaker, non-confrontational, non-controversial.  Who is this Paul that Curses People?  Curse people? In another Text Paul says (paraphrased by me) "I hope when you're circumcising yourselves you go ahead and cut the whole thing off and castrate yourselves".  We read about Paul in another text where he "Curses a man, blind!".   "Cursed be any man, or even Angel that preaches another gospel, again I say, cursed be him". I would assume that someone preaching another Gospel might be considered an enemy, didn't Jesus say, "bless them that curse you, pray for your enemies" so what in the world is Paul doing cursing people? Why is this man a celebrated Christian? Isn't he off track?  Isn't he misrepresenting Jesus? Or maybe Paul isn't not self-consciously trying to represent anybody and it is as he states himself, "it is no longer I that lives but Christ that lives in me". The modern day church doesn't know what to do with Paul? The church can't just dismiss him, after all he wrote three-quarters of the New Testament, but what does the emerging church do with the Apostle Paul?  If the Church says he was off track, we discount his Epistles, if the Church says, "he was right on the money" then our congregants might start behaving like him, would we want that?  Point is, the 21st Century Church is perplexed by this man. Paul had an edge to him, however, it was the same edge that Jesus had, can we accept that?  When Paul wrote, "it is no longer I that live, but Christ who lives in me" or better yet, "through me".  He meant it! So was he right in saying that? The Emergent Church has taken the aspects they like about Jesus and conveniently left out the rest. We package to the World a Jesus we feel is much more palatable, more acceptable, more marketable! We have given up on preaching to sinners, we have decided preaching is not the way, let's use marketing methods that work in the Corporate World to Market/Sell products and let's use that to Market Jesus. Thence, we portray or act out, to the world the Jesus we think should be shown to them, based on very limited scripture knowledge and a very limited relationship with him.  Paul certainly would not have fit the criteria for the Poster Boy for this marketing scheme. Paul wasn't PC [Politically Correct], but then again, neither was JC [Jesus Christ]. We are abnormally way to self-conscious about who we are as Christians.  Our relationship with Jesus should be as natural as breathing. We breath all day long without being self-conscious of it. We don't sit there and think, "did I breathe in to strong...did I ex-hale to much...will I have enough for the next breath?  Our relationship with Christ ought to be as natural as breathing, the moment we become conscious of our breathing is when we start having problems or there's a problem arising. People who are always self-conscious about what they should say or shouldn't say on how to portray Christ are missing it, there's something wrong with that. Paul wrote, "if I were trying to please man, I would not even be serving God".  However, that same man also wrote, "I will be all things to all men that I might save some".  Therefore, rather than think and analyze on how best to portray Christ why not rather saturate yourself with his word and get to know him better and then let Christ live through you as He wishes and don't restrain him.  The result will be days that the things you say will offend and cut and people will say, "that's not Jesus" [though it is] and there will be others days where your magnanimity, compassion and mercy will astound them.  Just let Jesus be himself, through you.  Either Paul was off track in cursing others or he was not. Jesus was not just looking the other way at Paul's actions, Jesus either approved or He did not. Paul knew, in him, both the fierceness, severity of God and both the compassion and mercy of God. Paul is trying to pass down to his disciple Timothy, who he is and what does he tell Timothy....."God has not given you a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of POWER".  We don't like the Jesus who flipped tables, shouted, took out a whip and told people, "you are of your father the Devil" and cursed nations like Chorazin and Bethsaida that rejected his salvation, Woe to you, or doom to you, basically translated "cursed be Chorazin and Bethsaida....".  The truth is Paul probably wouldn't fit in to most of the Churches in America today.  In the Church's eyes of  Modern Day Ecumenism and PC mantra, non-threatening, churches he would be asked to go somewhere else.  This isn't a license to be rude, insensitive and damning to our lost world and turning people away from Christ rather than towards him, but it is supposed to be thought provoking. It should prompt you to ask yourself if you self-consciously go out each day trying to portray a Jesus that you best feel the World will receive on a few choice scriptures you have read and limited understanding or if you are saturating yourself with his word, with Jesus and then simply letting Jesus live through you as naturally as breathing is to you. Some days that will make you the villain at work,with your unsaved family and religious community; and other days it will make you the most loved and respected person in the room, either way, it doesn't matter, let Christ be Christ, through you and don't fall prey to the mindset of the 21st Century Church that we must present and market, only one side of Jesus, otherwise they won't come. It is God, the Father that draws, calls and brings people to his Son. The Hollywood Jesus may draw crowds and enlarge churches, but how many is it really adding to Heaven? Only time and/or the Rapture will reveal the answer to that, in the meantime, let God be himself, in and through your life and let people make their own decisions and form their own opinions about you and the Jesus you represent, even as Paul wrote, "if I were concerned about what man says, I would not even be serving Him".

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

SEPTEMBER 13 "DIVORCE MY CHURCH!"

     EVER wonder, why...if the Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit, that such confrontational talk would be penned for eternity in God's word. I would almost consider some of the paragraphs in 2 Corinthians to be for "private consumption" wouldn't you? Is this not the kind of drama we try to hide from new converts & new church members, in the church?  Don't we want people to only know about the bliss and wonderful experience of the Church? The Apostle Paul is really getting down in our text today! He is "calling them out"!  In essence he is saying, "hey I'm saved, why don't you check yourself! Unless you fail the test!"  Is this what the situation between Paul and the Corinthian Church has succumbed to?  Well, if that's the case you can never accuse God of trying to hide the imperfections of The Church. I think it is best that God doesn't hide the imperfections of the Church, for our own sake! We will all one day find ourselves in a church that is more problematic than we ever thought or imagined. God will eventually allow the dim, rose colored glasses to come off and allow us to see the church for what it is. He will say, "you who are now mature, help influence the church to be better".  The church down the street may always look like this perfect blissful place to serve God just like the marriage across the aisle is always the marriage that looks so intact and perfect, but neither are true! Christians who leave their church or spouse in search for the perfect marriage or perfect church.... and the result?  The result is that they find  themselves in and out of one relationship after another or in and out of one church after another. 
     After years of marriage you begin to see all the flaws in your spouse (that were there all along) and after years in a church and/or fellowship, you begin to see all the flaws in them too! The temptation then is to divorce in aspiration of finding the perfect spouse, marriage, church, perfect life we are thinking exists, somewhere...out there! Statistics prove that most who divorce find themselves in another problematic, relationship having to deal with the same issues and often end up divorcing again and most who leave their church often find themselves facing the same imperfections, if not worse, in another church and end up leaving that church too. You will find that Christians who divorce their spouses or churches find themselves spiritual nomads, wondering forever from one church to another, from one relationship to another, never finding a true home again. Joseph Smith found himself disillusioned with the Church of Jesus Christ and found himself in the backwoods of his home expressing his grief, complaints and criticisms of the church to God when a "supposed" angel by the name Moroni (probably incognito for Moron) appeared to Joseph and said, "you are correct, they are all imperfect and you are the man to start a new church", thence the Mormons.  However, I'm sure if you were to join a Mormon church (which I do not recommend) you would find the Mormon church makes the Corinthian church look quite innocent. The point is, we are setting ourselves up to be quite deluded and deceived when we come to God expressing our revelations to him that the church is "jacked up", if I may.  What are we wanting to hear back from God at that point? We know what Joseph Smith was wanting to hear, but what are you wanting to hear back from God? Are you wanting to hear from God that He did not know and thank-you for your enlightening him? God would say, "have you not read..."  Isn't that what Jesus always said..."have you not read?".  We are not going to enlighten God about the condition of our church or the Church in general. He is fully aware of the state of the Church, read the first few chapters of the book of Revelations.  God, has by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit allowed such passages as we read today to be penned in his word for our own sake.  Jesus' response is always, "you who are mature...."  God's response would not be, "I'm so enlightened, I did not know the state of your church, poor you, move on..." he would rather say, "you who are mature, make a difference, be a peacemaker, be an encourager, be one that edifies others and makes a difference".  Is your church imperfect?! Are the people in your church not all they could be for Christ? Then we who are mature are to be the difference makers. God has allowed very small room or excuse for us to abandon our spouses or churches. The standard for God is never divorce or abandonment, but rather to work it out.  
     Yes the language in Corinthians is hard and the situation is messy, but if not sooner than later, this will become our lot or our experience and we will have to be able to accept and deal with it and work through the issues that will arise in our churches and we that are mature will make a difference and we that our immature
     The good news is that statistics show that those that do not divorce their spouses or church, but press on through the tumultuous years, go on to experience strong and blessed marriages, relationships and go on to experience and be part of churches that are strong and tightly connected and often times become "breakout Churches" in their community.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

SEPTEMBER 12 "JEHOVAH WITNESS'S FAVORITE SCRIPTURE"

We read today, Jehovah Witnesses' favorite scripture. Now if you're not familiar with the Cult of Jehovah Witness or their false doctrines, this means nothing to you (although you will be familiar with them after today). Their favorite scripture they put on the front of the "Watch Tower" magazine is the one quoted from Isaiah, in our reading today. "The Lion lying down with the lamb and the child will play in the midst of them" (paraphrased by me). Don't you want that? That's what we believe! "Don't you want to be part of us?", they ask? The only problem is, Jehovah Witnesses believe only 144,000 will make it on the new earth? 144,000? And their prophets believe the 144,000 are already chosen, so what hope does that leave for us? It's too bad when a Cult takes a scripture and makes false claims about it, it can ruin it for the rest of us. We can become disenchanted towards that scripture because it becomes associated with false teachings. That's a shame because this prophecy today, by Isaiah, is one that we should read and re-read over and over again. This is our promise, this is our future and it's not just for 144,000 but for whoever receives Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior on this earth, before departing. The bible, in revelations declares to us an amount of people so numerous they cannot be counted. Hollywood makes millions creating movies that are classified as "fiction" where fantastic animals and supernatural beings are interacting with humans, we watch in awe in movies like Narnia, Lord of the Rings and we are fascinated, but these are movies classified as "fiction".  The bible classifies them as our future. Not just in Isaiah, but if you read Revelations, there are Glorious beings that will dwell amongst us. God has a fascinating place waiting for us, it's real and if there's one thing (and it's the only thing) the Jehovah Witnesses have right; that is that God will be bringing down a New Earth out of Heaven and it will be far beyond anything we have every scene on our T.V's and/or in movie theaters, and it will not be classified as "fiction" but it will be our reality!

Monday, September 11, 2017

SEPTEMBER 11 "A PROPHECY EVEN I CAN UNDERSTAND"

Sometimes it's easy to think these "prophet guys" are just rambling on about....who knows what? We have to get out a Matthew Henry Commentary just to find out what it is they're actually speaking/writing about. Well, in the midst of our reading today, in Isaiah, there's something even the simplest of us, can understand.You don't have to be a theologian to have read and understand that Isaiah is talking about Jesus. "Unto us a child is born and He shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" and if you notice, a little before that text, Isaiah also mentions "Galilee, by the sea" this we know would be where Jesus would launch his ministry and we know "Micah the prophet"  prophesied the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. It is hard to believe how many Jews today, and at that time, that failed to see the prophecies, through their own Jewish Prophets, that Jesus was truly the Messiah they had been waiting for, longing for!
It just goes to prove, if you don't want to see something, no matter how obvious the evidence and/or facts may be, you won't. How many heated arguments have you had with people who just failed to see the truth, whether that was about the Gospel or any other issue; you presented facts & evidence, but they, in their stubborn hearts, refused to see. The evidence is there, for all Jews to see, they, out of their religious pride and stubbornness hearts choose not to see it. The evidence of our changed lives, by Christ, is evident to all to see, especially our family and old friends, they just choose not to see it, because it's as obvious as our reading today. What we can learn today is that it is not the bible that's the problem, it's not our witness, that's the problem, the problem and/or issue, is the hearts of those on the receiving end. Until something changes in their hearts, your best, cleverly crafted arguments, will only fall on deaf ears and blind eyes. "Forever seeing, they will not see and forever hearing, they will not hear".

Sunday, September 10, 2017

SEPTEMBER 10 "DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE?"

Isaiah is Definitely seeing things that we will never see, at least on this side of eternity.  I was encouraged to read that in God's presence Isaiah did see something that I can say, I also saw!  What is it that we both saw? We both saw that we are sinful men of  unclean lips among a sinful people. Not, often, but I have had a few opportunities, in the past few years, to speak in front of some rather large crowds (larger than I'm used to at least)  God's presence was there, words were given, a picture drawn before them (metaphorically speaking) and what was heard and what was seen?  To the surprise of many, .....not much.
I have been in the presence of much, much smaller crowds and yet have seen more eyes and ears opened. The Lord says, "they listen carefully, but do not understand, Watch closely, but learn nothing. Harden the hearts of these people.....they will not see with their eyes nor hear with their ears, nor understand with their hearts and turn to me for healing".  It's too bad, because that's exactly what is needed in this situation that has allowed me to speak to so many, ie:.healing.  Will there be healing as God would have it? Probably not! Why? Because they don't see what you see and don't hear what you hear.  What do you see when you are in God's presence? Do you see an interior that does not have aesthetics to your liking, do you hear singers that sing off key.  I was amazed to see so many people come into God's presence yet not see and not hear. However this is a good reminder to us, that the ability of the hearer to hear, and those present to see is never in the hands of the speaker. What happens to that individual once he or she gets in the presence of God is strictly between two principals and those two principals are: God and that individual!  Isaiah is simply the messenger and once Isaiah takes on more of a burden than that he has over stepped his duty for which he volunteered for and this will only lead to Isaiah's discouragement and/or self-deprecation. "In the year of Uzziah's death I saw the Lord'.  Isaiah needed to see The Lord at this juncture in his life, but could we say that Isaiah was the only one that needed to see the Lord? Obviously not, there were many that needed too and many that needed to even more so than Isaiah. However they saw nothing and God goes further to say, "they will continue to see nothing and hear nothing and will not receive comfort from me because their hearts are hardened, but give the message regardless. We as God's messengers must always deliver the message, even if we believe the response is going to be a pre-determined conclusion, so to speak.  Often we walk away and think, "why didn't I say that, if only I had done this, if I had preached harder, prayed more, done this, done that" as if somehow, we have in ourselves the capacity, if we do well enough or exert enough effort, to save a soul. Imagine the condemnation we would walk around with, thinking, "if I had done a better job, that person could have made heaven their home, but now they're going to hell because.....I'm not a good witnesser, I don't know enough scripture, I'm not good with people". I wonder how many Christians walk around with that yoke upon their necks? What do you see or what did you see many years ago or perhaps a few months or weeks ago, when you came into God's presence? I saw what Isaiah saw, that I was a man of unclean lips, a sinful man. I was in God's presence, in a Sanctuary, a man delivered a message, but what took place from that moment was solely between God and I.  What you see and what you hear in God's presence is solely a reflection of your heart. We know that the moon gets it's light from the reflection of the Sun's Light and we know now, that a person's countenance, response in God's presence, is merely a reflection that's coming off their heart, whether we see it, discern it or not, it is a reflection of the heart that's casting a shadow over what they have heard and saw.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

SEPTEMBER 9 "DON'T LOSE UR MIND"

     WE have often heard, "don't lose your Faith" but how about don't lose your mind!  Is your faith in your heart or is it in your mind? Good question isn't it?  In Romans we read, "for it is with the heart that you believe but with the mouth you confess". However, that being said, Paul, the same author of the book of Romans, here writes, "...your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ".  So while we may believe in our hearts, the battle will be waged in our minds. Yes we must guard our hearts with all diligence, for out of our hearts springs the issues of life.  However, I believe what is happening in our hearts eventually drips into our minds. Paul is saying that it is "our minds" that are led astray, not the heart. I have lost more friends who's minds have wandered more than anything else.  There is the occasion that someones heart just turns cold to God because of a tragedy that struck their life, but more and more I am finding that Christians are being led astray in their minds. In "their hearts" they would say they still believe in God, still believe in Salvation through Jesus but.....then comes the but......and after that you begin to hear all sorts of weird thoughts that are running around in their minds, they are losing the battle ground in a key place, the mind.  They have failed to put on their helmet of salvation taking every thought into the captivity of Jesus Christ.  As a Christian we must learn to live with and deal with a constant barrage of assaults that come through our thoughts.  Our problem is we give way to much credence to our thoughts, more so than we do to the Word of God or wise counsel. "I have thought this and thought it for quite some time therefore it must be true!", is the reasoning behind madness. We wait far to long to share these thoughts with others. Instead of sharing these thoughts with others from the onset, we wait until we cannot be talked out of them.  In the book of proverbs we read, "he who isolates himself seeks his own desires and rages against all sound judgment".  Well, a person who behaves in such a manner is a Christian who is losing the battle in the mind.  He is forming thoughts, conclusions and theologies that he does not want countered by anybody.  
     Normally the battle in the mind begins with an area in our life that we are refusing to submit to God. It begins with an area of disobedience in one area and then all of sudden everything starts to become quite convoluted and complex and we want now to try to think it clear, but it will not work. In the natural realm of life perhaps we can think a matter through but in the spiritual realm, we must obey it through. We will find that the moment we begin to obey the murky waters become clear once again. It can be a constant and wearisome task to keep the mind in tact, especially pertaining to matters of our Faith, our belief in God, Satan, The Church, The Salvation of the Saints and all these matters that really do go against the Eben flow of the society we live in and it does not take a large opening, but merely a small crack for the enemy to come in to our minds and begin to work his web of confusion.  As wearisome as it may be to constantly reign in our minds and judge thoughts, rather than allow them to run around lose and unchallenged....it is worth it in the end.  I have seen many people who's minds went before their bodies. They had a whole body but a very messed up mind, not able to function as a normal citizen. Perhaps the reason is that we can see the bad shape our body is in every morning in the mirror and immediately want to take action. The mind is concealed, it is not scene, except by the Word of God. The greatest mirror for the mind is The Word of God.  James in his epistles tell us that if we hear the word but don't do it, it is as a man who looks in the mirror, walks away and quickly forgets what he saw". Again, The Word of God is the mirror to ourr minds and when we read or sit under God's word but do not allow to work as that mirror, we become self-deceived, every thing starts to become convoluted and complex and we begin a slow deteriorating process of losing our minds.

Friday, September 8, 2017

SEPTEMBER 8 "DOES GOD NEED ANGER MANAGEMENT CLASSES?"

     IF you were hoping to find words of love, comfort and encouragement today in your One Year reading, you may want to look again...TOMORROW. You will not find much of that in today's reading.   If you were to have picked up the One Year Bible for the first time today, you would quickly put it down and think to yourself, "wow, this God sure is an angry and threatening God".   And of course in some people's unrealistic eyes, God should never be angry. The question is...."is God angry, does God need anger management classes?"  According to Isaiah, Jehovah is very ticked off.  Paul seems like an angry and frustrated man in the Corinthian Letter and again in Psalms God seems to be angry and threatening. What on earth is gong on here???
     You ever have days when anybody who crosses your path that day is going to feel your wrath?  Is it new wrath they are going to feel that day or is it anger that you have been storing up for some time? I have to admit some days I just wake up cranky  and vexed and those will be the days that I let people know what I think, especially my children. They will perceive that all of a sudden I have changed, what was permissible one day is now not permissible.  Well, it's not that it was ever permissible, it annoyed me and upset me the other day, the other week, the other month etc...etc...I just did not say anything at that point. In our text God eludes to the fact that he has been watching these people for some time and the anger and frustration has been brewing.  Our children will wonder, "what's wrong with mom, what's wrong with dad?" Well, nothing really, it's just mom and/or dad have had enough.
     Is God angry, of course He is, we would be trying to conceal the truth to admit otherwise. He's tired and vexed with their behavior. He has watched them do their religious duties and sacrifices for so long and now He is going to speak, although up until now He has kept silent.  "I cannot bear your evil assemblies, your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts my soul hates", says The Lord.  My kids always want me to be happy and pleasant and never to be harsh or stern, regardless of their attitudes or behavior. They want to live as they want, be disobedient, disrespectful, smart mouthed,  sinful and yet mom or dad should never get angry and of course, we as God's children treat God the same way.  We want to live disobedient lives and expect God to always be this a loving and smiley God.  And he is, to show anger towards another does not negate our love. Many people in "anger management classes have been set up, so to speak. It is the people around them that have driven them into that place. Yes they are angry, but for many valid reasons. It's like the wreck less driver who causes an accident, but yet drivers on totally oblivious to him the damage and wreck he has left behind him. I am not taking responsibility away from the individual to control himself, after all, "self control" is one of the fruits of the spirit we should possess, but that being said, some people to seriously drive us to be angry. Do we let it out everyday, do we let them have it every day...NO, but there will be those days that they will hear an earful. The bible says, "be angry and sin not".   Anger is unavoidable and depending on the people that surround us can often determine the amount of anger we have to deal with on a daily basis
     Today is God's day to let us have it.  Today, from O.T. to Psalms to N.T. we are reading about a God and a man (Paul) that are showing some signs of anger and in both cases it is people, that are the source of their anger. Paul is certainly not character flawed and obviously neither is God.  Neither of them needs "anger management classes" (as some might suggest) they just need people who claim to be God's children to behave accordingly so.  Nobody here is asking for perfection, just simple, common courtesies, Godly and ethical behavior is all that is being asked.  We as parents are not asking our children to be perfect, we are just asking for some common courtesies, some respect towards authority, towards those that could "wipe them out" (so to speak) and some obedience.  The irreverence to the very God that gives us air to breath, this contempt for parents who feed and clothe their children even before themselves is totally inexcusable and some days Parents will vent and some days God will vent. Allow God his day to vent, does he not have the right? Yes God is love and his love is demonstrated to us by allowing us to see how frustrated he is with humanity, but yet, his love is demonstrated towards us that he does not wipe us out as he once did.  His love is demonstrated towards us that he does not "kill us" in our sin and actually gives people like you and I a chance to repent, be forgiven and have eternal life. Yes God is angry, but it's anger in check, it's anger enveloped in a love that is constantly reaching out towards us and yet constantly being rejected and abused.  It's an anger that at the end of the day has a plea....and that plea is not, "I'm going to kill you" but rather "come now, let us reason together".   God no matter how anger is always wanting to reason and work things out. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow"...He is always wanting to forgive us and help us move on towards a blessed life. God's anger stems from the same anger we have towards our children. We have so much to offer, so much love to give them, but their attitudes and disobedience causes them to rob themselves of the blessing we are wanting to bestow on their lives and perhaps, this is the most frustrating part of all about being a parent and perhaps the most frustrating part of being God, ie: having so much to give, so much love to lavish but an inability to give because of the decisions of our children. Is anger a sin? No it is not, it is a natural, God given emotion that often times is very justified and warranted, God simply says, "be angry....and sin not".  The question today is not "Does God need anger management classes" or "why is God so angry" but rather "am I the source of  any of God's anger or frustration or anybody else's for that matter?"

Thursday, September 7, 2017

SEPTEMBER 7 "CHURCH AND MONEY DON'T MIX"

 WE'VE all met or heard of those people that "swear" they will never return to church because when they did visit, all the preacher talked about was money and giving.  "That's all the church wants, is your money," they cry out.  If we falsely look at the church as simply a religious institution that teaches nice religious platitudes to make us feel better about ourselves and teaches nice principles such as "The Golden Rule" then maybe money should be left out.  However, if the church is an institution whereby God chooses to work through to help his people, to prosper them, to give them a future and a hope, then money better be a subject and a re-occurring subject, at that, because money is one of the areas that people struggle in more than anything else.  Any survey will tell you that couples (inside & outside the church) fight mostly about money.  The #1 cause of divorce is Money, not infidelity.  We have money problems and the church is there not just to teach you religious practices but to help you in every way, according to the bible.  According to the bible, Money is an issue God wants to help us with.  According to God's word Money is an area God wants us to do better in and fight less about. In our text Paul is laying down some physical and spiritual principles concerning money.  The law of sowing and reaping (a law that many would expect to be taught in church) is not just a law that applies with wrong or good doing, but a law that also applies to money. In proverbs we read, "there is one that withholds more than he ought and it tends to lead to poverty and there is one who scatters yet increases, the liberal soul shall be made rich".  Paul follows up with this principle by writing, "whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly and whoever sows generously will also reap generously".  If God is a God that wants to help us prosper in all ways, than we'd better be hearing about money in church and the individual who is offended by talk about money in church is either ignorant or is not right in the area of mammon.  The person who is offended by a sermon on morality would be the individual who is immoral, to the others in the congregation is was just a good sermon on truth, to the one offended, it was an indictment against his/her life. The person who is offended by talk on money in the church is the person who most needs to hear and be preached to about money.  He will either return and allow the truth to shed light on the darkness or he will not return in case his inner thoughts are exposed once again. Question is, do you get aggravated when preachers preach on money and giving? Do you think matters pertaining to money should be left outside of the church and we should spend more time hearing about doing good deeds and loving our neighbors and the Golden rule and all sorts of other religious platitudes that we nod, "yes and amen" but never follow unless we are having an extremely good day.
     Not only is giving to the church spiritual and worthy of mention from behind the pulpit, but Paul goes further to say that it is even a ministry. Paul writes, "this service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God".  Imagine, people are growing in faith and praising God (not men) because another person is giving somewhere else. Money is not flowing down from heaven but flowing through people into the hands of other people and in turn, God gets the glory.  Paul goes on to write, "Because of the service by which you have proved yourself, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else".  Paul clearly states that "The Gospel" is very much associated with our monetarial giving towards the needs in The Church. Paul commends them for their obedience to God in giving.  In other words it is God who releases the resources and it is God who then challenges us to give of those resources and in so doing he causes us to prosper even more so than before we gave. Think money talk and the church don't fit together, THINK AGAIN!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

SEPTEMBER 6 "DON'T AWAKEN LOVE BEFORE IT'S TIME"

The Song of Solomon is quite some sultry poetry, for the Bible, or for any other book, for that matter. While there's much that we could analyse from this book, I will leave that to you! But one theme, that does keep arising, in the book, is "don't awaken love before it's time!".  It reminds me of the warning to Jack, in "Jack and the Bean Stock" don't awaken the giant!  Eventually Jack awakens the giant and Jack cannot put the giant down afterwards. The moral of the story, is that some things in life, once awakened, cannot be put back down to rest. We are sexual creatures and once sexuality has been awakened in us, it will not be put down. This is one of the greatest violations of sexual molestation, sexuality has been awakened "before it's time" and children that are molested are now altered and changed, from that day forth. However, it's not always sexual molestation that awakens someones sexuality too early, it could be pornography that is found in the home, by a son or daughter. I have heard many stories from men, that struggled with sexuality, that reference it back to the day they found one of their dad's Playboy Magazines at 7-8 years old and sexuality was awakened before it's time. I have heard of young girls, who went out at 12-14 years old and began to be promiscuous at way too early an age and it was a downward spiral from there. They became sexually, mentally and emotionally confused.  We are all sexual creatures, but awakening sexuality in someone before it's time is like putting a 10 year behind the wheel of a Ferrari and saying, "go now, son, take it for a drive". It is way too much power for a child to handle and he will crash at best or kill himself at worse, in the process. "We are all sexual creatures, I have nothing to hide from my children" is the ignorant mantra of parents and the world today. They take a truth and mix it with lies or at least ignorance. Yes, no doubt we are all sexual creatures, but the wisdom of God, here in the Song of Solomon is.....Love awakened before its' time, is not good! The greatest epidemic of our generation is not drugs, it's young men and women that are sexually screwed up! Hearts are being broken, suicides are too numerous to count, depression, drugs, 14 year olds walking around with babies, homosexuality is rampant, pornographic, sexual, adulterous web sites are thriving, we are a perverse generation. And it is not because sex is wrong, it's because the time has been wrong. The Song of Solomon, celebrates sex, God put that book in the Bible, it didn't sneak in there without God's knowledge, but the book was also put in there with a WARNING LABEL, "don't awaken this in someone, before it's time". And that, is where we have failed as a society and we are reaping the consequences big time. But it's never too late to put the brakes back on. We are not prudes, and I am not a bad parent for not allowing my 10 year old to take a Ferrari for a test drive, I am actually a caring and loving parent for doing so. And I am not a prude, to delay the awakening of sexuality in my children. The warning today, in our reading, is not at all about sex, no, it's the opposite, the Song of Solomon celebrates sex, the warning today in our reading is about awakening sexuality in a young man or woman, before it's time, it is the sleeping giant, that once awakened, will not be easily, if ever, put back to rest!

SEPTEMBER 5 "THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES"

Heard this lady say, after bitter divorce proceedings, "and I gave the best years of my life to that bum!" She is probably right and what can you say? ....Better luck next time??? I can tell you, nobody will ever turn to God and say, "I gave you the best years of my life and...".  What is the greatest lie that has been perpetuated to the human race? Ans: serve God when you're older. In other words, give the best years of your life to some woman, some man, some sinful pleasure and then live to regret it. If only every 15-25 year old would read Ecclesiastes 11.  Solomon emphasizes youth in our chapter today and is not shy to write that are youthful years truly are the best years of our lives; contrary to many trying to hype up the senior years. "young man it's wonderful to be young! Enjoy every minute of it".  It's sad to think that our 15-25 year olds are giving the best years of their lives to drugs, violence, immorality, basically sin, the world and the devil. Then, they come in the church and of course we take them in, but just like this woman, now in their bitter divorce with the world, all they can say is, "I gave the best years of my life to her, the world, and for what? No good answer for that question.  We must counter the lie perpetuated to our youth; don't waste the best years of your life on her, the world, give your life to Jesus early and give the best years of your life to Him and you will not regret it, if you won't listen to me, after all, who am I? Then at least listen to the wisest man that ever lived.

Monday, September 4, 2017

SEPTERMBER 4 "WHAT KIND OF SORROW DO YOU HAVE?"

"Godly sorrow leads to repentance and leaves no regret."  It's interesting that there are different types of sorrow. "Godly sorrow" as opposed to what? I guess...."ungodly sorrow".  As the saying goes, "are you sorry for what you did or sorry you got caught?"  Both will bring sorrow, no doubt! What is the sorrow you are feeling? What are you feeling sorrow for? The sorrow that comes from God and is accepted by the individual with a right attitude and/or heart, will leave that person, better off.  Ungodly sorrow can ruin and destroy, it can send you into depression, the pit of despair or worse, even cause someone to take their life. We can conclude then, that not all sorrow is good for the soul and not all sorrow produces the same results. Sorrow and guilt from God, will bring forth something better, condemnation, which comes from the enemy is not to bring you to repentance but to crush you. Sometimes we have to ask ourselves, is this guilt from God or condemnation from the Devil. Guilt we must respond to, condemnation we must reject. "For there is no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus". Are you down? Are you filled with sorrow? Now ask yourself, "what's that sorrow producing in me?" "Where is this sorrow taking me?"  If it's a good place, a good thing, thank God for it!  If it is negative and destructive, reject it, come out of it. Remember, Godly sorrow ALWAYS leaves, no regret!

SEPTERMBER 3 "THE HOUR WHEN DARKNESS REIGNS"

 Solomon writes, " I saw the tears of the oppressed and there was none to comfort them".  How true that can be.  I have read these words of Solomon many times, but never have they rang so true. Solomon writes, "I concluded that the dead are better than the living". Solomon digs deeper and writes, " and better are those never even born, that will not have to experience the evil in the world. Evil, that's all we sense, around us, at certain times in life, when tragedy and evil hit. I. There is no doubt, in life, as Jesus said, "the hour where darkness reigns. However, we can defy the cynicism of Solomon, as wise as he may have been. We can re-write history that the mourner was not left alone with nobody to comfort. Life's darkest hours, should spurn on the Church's brightest moments. We know that has not always been the case; and that's why Solomon wrote what he did. The Church, at this Crossroads always has an opportunity, The Church can either be a startling rebuke to Solomon's cynicism and totally repudiate his words by being the Hands and Feet of Jesus, in the dark hours of the Christian, or She, The Church, can only reinforce his sentiment and his experience, of watching the hurting mourn and shed tears, with not a soul to comfort.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

SEPTEMBER 2 "STRANGE CONCEPT OF THINKING OF OTHERS"

We have really digressed from Paul's admonition here to "live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us and no one will find fault with our ministry".  Today, starting at the top with Pastors and working our way down, we have totally let this scripture fall by the waste side and our famous line "nobody is perfect, get off my case". Paul admits he's not perfect in Philippians, Paul never claims to be perfect. Being perfect is not the issue. It's about thinking before you act, thinking before "you tweet" thinking before you speak, thinking before you "post". It's about THINKING, thinking of others, thinking of how your actions will cause others to stumble, even though you may receive forgiveness from God....what about the collateral damage? What do you do about that....answer is nothing! Today we have preachers unleashing tirades of profanity on the blogosphere, we have Pastor's divorcing their wives and marrying some hotsy, totsy from the worship team, we have numerous infidelity, numerous cases of financial infidelity. The results, many stumble, many fall, they claim "I'm forgiven, I serve a God of Grace" and they are up and functioning again, if not in their own church then in another church down the road. If you're looking for that extra strength to overcome, try this...."think of others and how they will stumble because of your selfish actions".  Think of this, "yes I can be forgiven, but how do I reconcile what Jesus said "woe unto those that causes one of these little ones to stumble". It's really quite simple when you apply Paul's philosophy of the Christian life (of course echoed by Jesus) "live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us and no will find fault with our ministry". Is this a hard task? Yes! Is it an impossible task? Absolutely not!

Friday, September 1, 2017

SEPTEMBER 1 "MANY BEAUTIFUL CONCUBINES"

We are reading about Solomon. He is the testimony and witness, to all men.  He had and did what many men can only dream about. His story is a true story, not fantasy or dreams. Read it and weap! He had all the money, all the power, he had it all. And Solomon makes sure to put in there, "...and had many beautiful concubines". For those of us his knowledge is not that vast, "concubines" were women that he slept with. And of those, he had many and they were all beautiful. He had it all! Today, per God's word, we are regulated to being committed to sleeping with one woman, one wife. Our vows say, "for better or for worse" and often we think that in health or financial matters, but it also applies to physical appearance. Regardless of the deterioration of the appearance of our spouses, this is the one we are to be committed to when it comes to intimacy. Here is Solomon , not just limited to one woman, but many and they are all super models. So he has the money, the power, fame and the babes! I know, I know, you hate him! Now here's the catch, that you and I, of course to buy for one minute, but in his own words, "it's all meaningless" in summary, it didn't fulfill him. Now you can say, "that's his problem" I would be fulfilled, bring all that my way, you'll never hear any peep out of me!" Well, if you're shall and superficial and maybe hellbound, there might be a few out there who are happier than a pig in mud, for the rest of their lives, but for the rest of us, I believe, that just like our brother Solomon, you and I, would find ourselves, eventually feeling void and without meaning and purpose in life. The bible declares "the soul of man longs for God" and the God "has put eternity in the hearts of men". There's something in us that yearns for more the sinful pleasures and lusts of the flesh. The problem with this story is very few believe in the reality of his abundant and lavish life that he lived and fewer believe that if it was true, that Solomon wasn't satisfied by it. I choose to believe they are both true. And that I can learn from Solomon. It doesn't mean we don't at time long for the lusts of the flesh and the pride of this life (as Paul wrote) but it means we draw ourselves back, reign in our flesh and remind ourselves, these are not the things that "ultimately" satisfy.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

AUGUST 31 "JUST BECAUSE YOU KNOW A LITTLE, DOESN'T MEAN YOU KNOW ALLOT"

JOB is apparently one of the 1st books written from the Bible. It's really a fascinating book into God's thoughts. "Were you there when I command those proud waves, here you will stop and go no further".  So much in life we take for granted and don't consider, that's now how it always was, until God "made it to be". The storage of rain in clouds, the insight into the mindset of even "a horse". We take it for granted that a horse is so strong, we take it for granted that this animal just races in battle with no fear of the sword. Try getting another animal to do that, but we take if for granted. God says, "I made the horse like that".  We get insight even in to the Ostrich, "not the wisest of animals, doesn't have much sense" but when it runs, it leaves the horse and rider behind. There's no way this insight is coming from Moses or any other man, especially way back then, what did Moses do, line up the horse and Ostrich in a race and then say "go".  The Ostrich is the 2nd fastest animal on the planet, there's no way Moses could have known this. Truly Moses is being inspired and led by God, as he is writing all this down. Moses is writing down "words with knowledge" as Job is speaking "words without knowledge". So often we speak without knowledge. We are quite opinionated people, but often that's all it is, "our opinion" and often we are just speaking without knowledge, as God accuses Job of doing. God also adds, that not only do we speak "without knowledge" but we darken His counsel because of it.  In other words, because we are saying things we don't even know anything about, we make God look bad. Imagine a little kid standing around listening to an adult say, "I don't believe in God because of all the evil that is in this world". The counsel of God is darkened because a man or woman is speaking without knowledge, in complete ignorance and making God look bad. That child grows up attributing all evil in the world, to God, it's His fault. I heard a man say that! Everyday we speak without knowledge about other people's lives and problems, we speak without knowledge about wars, suffering and tragedy. We speak without knowledge about issues in the church. We speak without knowledge about political matters and world affairs. One thing about most people, we love to talk and speak our opinion, we love to get on our "soap box" just like Job. In our story it is quite interesting and awesome to finally seek God jack someone's chain, so to speak. This sure does silence Job, doesn't it!  And it would surely silence you and I, if He did it to us.  Next time you go running off with your mouth about God's injustice, other people's lives and issues in the church, maybe you want to just stop and think, could I be speaking without knowledge?

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

AUGUST 30 "HELL WILL NOT MAKE PEOPLE REPENT"

In the Book of Job today we read, "the godless are full of resentment".  It's a vicious cycle isn't it. The more we disobey God and do things are own way, the worse things get for us and the more bitter and resentful we get against God and the further we stray from Him. While the opposite is true for the sincere Christian. Those that obey spend the rest of their years in prosperity and their years in contentment; thence, drawing them closer to God.   We go on to read "For the godless are full of resentment. Even when he punishes them, they refuse to cry out to him for help".  In the book "The Great Divorce" by C.S. Lewis, a fictional account of life for the soul in the netherworld, C.S. Lewis illustrates the truth of this scripture. Lewis shows that in the afterlife, people/souls will only become more resolute in their convictions. The lost person who dies in their sin, full of rebellion and pride against God will only become more resolute as this God punishes him only reinforcing his hatred for this God. When all is said and the final verdict is pronounced and there is no longer hope for anything good to benefit them, then all the animosity and hatred will pour out of the vile heart.  I remember as a teenager, I did not get along at all with my mother. However, I remember around Wed, Thursday, I would start forcing myself to be nice to her in hopes of getting either the car or some money for the week-end, or BOTH.  Once it was made clear she had no money and needed the car, I immediately turned very hateful towards her. The mask no longer needed to be worn. We naively think everyone in Hell is going to have this repentant heart, seeing the error of their ways and wanting God to forgive them. However our scripture and many other scriptures in the Bible show us that that will not be the case. The place we have to come to as Christians is a completed trust and confidence in this Just and Merciful and Gracious God that we serve. We must trust that those that end up in Hell end up there because there was no alternative. Even if that person ends up being our children, our parents, grandmother or best friend. We must trust that God is Just and all His ways are perfect. We must trust that nobody who is in Hell had a chance at Heaven. I know sometimes we hear, "had you or I witnessed to that person they could have ended up in Heaven, but because of me they are in Hell now". However, as much as that makes the individual look back, it makes God look even worse. Why did God leave into the hands of a lazy or apathetic Christian, someones soul. Now that person who "could have been in Heaven" will now spend eternity in Hell because God left my sister's soul in the hands of a apathetic Christian, my sister, "who could have made Heaven" her home but didn't, Thanks God!"  You have to see the fallacy in this kind of wrong thinking.  That somehow, good people, that would have repented, had they heard, are in Hell screaming today with no chance of getting out. I must trust in the goodness, Omniscience, Omnipotence and Sovereignty of my God above all things. I must trust that those that will wind up in Hell were truly the un-penitent sinner.  I believe, according to scripture that Hell is not full of repentant souls, but full of souls that defy, hate and curse their creator and they are in great company because their leader will one day join them for good, in the Lake of Fire.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

AUGUST 29 "GOT LUST?"

ALL men should be both comforted and challenged by Job's statement, in today's reading, "I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust at a young woman."  Why did he make such a covenant with his eyes? For the obvious reason that this is what he was doing or being tempted to do. We should be glad that he did not just write, "my eyes look lustfully at young women".   If he had, we would all feel justified in unbridled lust. You think of King David, a man after God's own heart, according to scripture. He had hundreds of women that he had sex with, many wives and concubines.  He found a way to feed his lust for young women by trying to legitimize it by making them wives and conubines.  Many Preachers have joked about this, "it's hard enough to be married to one woman, who would want more than one?" If only that were the case, David was married to these women simply on paper, so to speak. He did not deal with them in the normal sense of a relationship. They were there for one reason. It was legitimzied prostitution. They were there to give him sex when he called upon them or they were picked by one of his men. In return, they and their children were well taken care of. Even Queen Esther in her great relationship she had with the King, was afraid to just appear before him lest she be killed. This was actually a legitimate fear she had, according to her own words. David's lust after young beautiful women never went away, it's like a Gremlin (for those of you from the 80's), the more you feed it the more it grows.  With hundreds of beautiful women to have sex with he still manages to be lusting after another, Bathsheba. Of course this becomes his undoing. This is the place that pornography is filling in men's lives today. It's unbridled lust, sex (in their minds) with the prettiest, young women and Lust is never satisfied.  God made man to be attracted and aroused by beauty and physical appearance and the worse part is Gut put no governor on it.  I used to drive a vehicle, when I was in the Marine Corps, on the Flight Line, and this vehicle had a governor on it that limited the speed I could go. I could have the accelerator pedal all the way to the floor (which I did) but I could go no faster than the speed limit that was set on the governor. We as men, it is as if God has put us in a Ferrari Race Car, with no governor, go as fast as you want, but you may just kill yourself as many men have done, driving race cars and also in our personal lives.  God leaves it to us to govern ourselves, crazy as that may be, and Job actually did it! You read about Actor Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, how they might be separating (of course!).  If you look at the picture of the two, you just think, "this aint right!".  He's wrinkled up and grey haired and she's young and beautiful" (25 yrs younger!!). But just like David, Solomon and powerful, influential men of the past, they can have it so they take it!  Job was powerful, rich and influential and could have done the same, but he did not.  Most men are not rich, powerful and influential so they go for the next best thing, pornography, cause they can't get the real thing. But Jesus says, "you're just as guilty!".  Whether you fulfill it physically or fulfill it in your mind, you are just as guilty. The answer is in governing yourself, make a covenant with your eyes not to lust after a young women", because the more you feed it, the more it grows and the stronger it gets. I will always remember "The Gremlins" it finally occurred to the owners, that the more they fed the Gremlins, the more they grew and multiplied, at first the owners thought the answer was just to satisfy their hunger, but it was insatiable; the answer was to starve them. I believe the Gremlins (from the 80's movie) were a metaphor of Lust. You think if you feed it, give in to it, it will be satisfied and leave you alone, but it only grows. The answer to lust is not to feed it, but to starve it! " I have made a covenant with my eyes not to lust after a young woman".

Monday, August 28, 2017

AUGUST 28 "DO YOU STINK?"

I work with an elderly lady and when I walk by, I hold my breath, not because she stinks, but the perfume she wears, stinks. She does not take the time and pay the cost, to put that perfume on, so that others can say, "she stinks, but regardless, that is the end result. I'm sure there are others that will tell her that the perfume she is wearing smells very nice. Paul describes our life as a sweet smelling perfume. However Paul makes an interesting observation here, he writes that not all think our perfume is so sweet. Paul writes that to those who are being saved we are a life giving perfume, but to those who are perishing we are a dreadful smell of death and doom.  At work, at school and family events, to some, as they see you walking over, they say to each other before you get there, "block your nose, he comes so and so and she/her stinks of death and doom".  And they hold their breath the whole time you are there. The Word of God has a scripture that gives us insight into this, "do not cast your pearls to the swine".  I remember my son, when he was about 7 dragging me in the midst of 10 rough looking, basketball players, as these tall and big teens gathered around us, wondering what this little 7 year old and his dad would want (is this dad going to ask if his 7 year old son can play with us, what's this?) my son looked to me and said, "go ahead dad, tell them about Jesus!"  That's when all eyes were on me and I could see it in their eyes, "yeah...Mr. Dead, why don't you go ahead and tell us!".  Well, I did and one player was getting ready to take me off the court, but another player intervened. They all walked away, I was the smell of death and doom to these men. Though they had been playing ball and all were quite sweaty, to them, I was the one that stunk! However, one young man did not leave, to one young man I did not stink at all, I was the smell of life to him. The basic rule of thumb is, if someone that is around you or someone you are around "thinks you stink" because of the perfume or cologne you are wearing, your options are simple; either get away from him/her or change your perfume/cologne. We do not have the option of changing our perfume/cologne. The message we preach is not our message and it is not ours to change. However if there are some that think we stink and others that think we are the smell of life wouldn't it make sense to go to those who don't think we stink. There are some perfumes/colognes over the years that I have learned to like and change my opinion of them. So this is not to say that to those whom we stink, we avoid like the plague and just damn them to Hell. Things change, people change and sometimes/often we must re-visit and see if we are still the smell of "death and doom". But the point Paul is making, the point Proverbs is making, is that if we spend most our time, around those that think we stink, engaging in endless battles and arguments that we are not going to win; then we are wasting our precious time and efforts and could be using that time and effort towards someone else that would totally be touched by the message and hope of the Gospel. Do you stink? Well we know the answer to that is "no", but if you are giving yourself to a group that thinks you do, you may want to consider your alternatives? Never give up on anyone, but also make the best use of your time, resources and opportunities...."for the night cometh, where no man can labor".  We must be careful not to allow people to goad our flesh and draw us into futile arguments, rather our job is to get as many people in The Ark, before the door shuts because once it shuts, that's it.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

AUGUST 27 "REQUEST A ONE ON ONE WITH GOD"

Job is wanting a "one on one meeting" with God, to present his case before God. "Even till this day, my complaint is bitter". Job goes on to say. "Oh that I knew where I might find him".  Job is clear here, in this text, that if he could find God, he would go to Him and plea his case, and his complaint, before Him. Recently, I did such a thing, not with God of course, but with a utility company that I have a complaint with and wanting to state my case before them. I went in, quite irate and perturbed, to say the least. They did not make any promises to change and/or reverse any charges, but would consider. The difference between the utility company and God though, is I was able to bring information to them, that they were not privy of, so that may change their recourse. However, with God, what information are we going to bring to Him that He does not already have knowledge of? Many of us, I'm sure, have at one time or another, wished if we could just have a "one on one" with God, it would solve so much.  I think that when we are in "the thick of it" we loose sight of who God is. Job is a great man of God, a righteous man, but you can see that even Job, when he is going through it, regresses to the point of a new convert. Surely Job knows that God is Omniscient. Surely Job knows that God knows "his comings and his goings". Surely Job knows that before a word is even on his lips, God knows it. Surely Job knows that whether he ascends to the Highest Heavens or to the deepest depths, there the Lord is. Surely Job knows all this........So what is getting an audience before God and presenting his case to Him going to do? Absolutely nothing! The point is, when we are going through rough times we forget that God is very much aware of who's right and who's wrong, He's very much aware of our circumstance and He has taken the time to listen to every prayer we have uttered. Perhaps His response and/or lack of action on our part, seems like He has not heard or does not know all the details, but we have to know, God does. The point is, we really don't need a "one on one" with God (as much as I would like one myself), all we need to do is trust Him, keep praying, keep doing right and endure through the trial. Are you upset with God, do you have some complaints for Him, do you need to present some information to God.........you may want to reconsider, you may want to sit down, calm down and re-access who God is and think about this verse, "be still and know that I am God", are least favorite scripture in the bible.

AUGUST 26 "THE GOOD COMFORTER"

One thing that is very interesting about reading through the One Year Bible is coming across days like today. Who could plan this out? Yesterday, in the Old Testament we are reading about "Lousy Comforters" and today in the New Testament we are reading about "Good Comforters". Paul writes that God comforts us in our troubles so that we can comfort others in their troubles. The first problem then of a lousy comforter would be that he or she, is one that has not been comforted by God; therefore he cannot comfort others. The question to ask of course would be, "why hasn't he been comforted by God?". The answer is complex, but a simple answer for sake of time and space, would be that he/she is not able to be comforted by God because they are to distant from God and secondly, because they have structured their life in such a way that often there is not much trouble to be comforted in. Paul writes, "that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us". The Christian that has gone through some suffering is going to be the Christian that is actively pursuing the Will of God for his/her life and taking Godly risks as he goes along that journey. Paul endured much suffering, but the suffering was not brought on by reckless and dare-devil living, the suffering was brought on by pursuing the Will of God for his life and taking Godly risks. You may find this an odd statement, but it is true nonetheless,....not every Christian is pursuing the Will of God for their life. They are content to have good families, be good citizens and be in a good church, nothing more! High and lofty sermons that challenge to lay hold of God and pursue him at all costs will slide off them as easily as water off a ducks back; and sermons on being blessed and having a prosperous life, they will embrace and cherish. It's really a "self serving" Christianity. The good comforter is the disciple that is pursuing God's will at all costs; thence enduring suffering, being comforted by God and then being used to turn around and offer that same comfort to those that are also along the same journey, it's called Pilgrims Progress.. The good comforter is the one that has not had a leisurely life. The good comforter is the one who is in the ebb and flow of the Christian life. Paul also describes the Christians who are "the respected and dignified" Christians and mocks at how interesting it is, that he and his band of men, are being paraded as fools for Christ, while other Christians are so dignified.  The dignified, the structured, safe and secure Christian life will make for a lousy comforter, some day when they give it a try. If you are a good comforter my guess is you are in the right place and are in the right ebb and flow.  It is not to purposely keep ourselves down and low so we can minister to others, but it is to purposely pursue God with all we have and that in itself will bring hard and rough times; that will in turn make us smooth ministers, comforting ministers, because "we have been there" and God comforted us and now we offer that same comfort to another.

Friday, August 25, 2017

AUGUST 25 "ARE YOU A LOUSY COMFORTER?"

Job responds to his friends, "I have heard many things like this before; you are lousy comforters, all of you. Job is not trying to be mean and guess what?! Neither are his friends! They are simply, "lousy comforters". These are believers, they are well versed believers. Much of what they are saying is true. Their theology is correct, but their application is horrible.  A Christian employee was asked by the secretary why bad things happen to kids; another religious man in the company interrupted with his own answer, "everything comes down to sowing and reaping" and he began to quote scripture. In this Christian's world, everything is black and white. Just like Job's friends; and what a lousy comforter he would be. What would he say to comfort the woman who has a miscarriage? He would not doubt tell her she was reaping some kind of sin. Even Jesus' disciples were caught up in this tract, they asked Jesus, "who sinned, this man or his parents, that he is blind?" Jesus surprised them when He answered, "neither".  The Church is desperate for congregation members that have people skills. Christians that have a discernment to know what to say and what not to say, to know when to say and when not to say it. The time to say it may be wrong, even though the words may be true. The advice may be right, but the setting is wrong and at other times, the words, the setting and the timing, is all wrong! Are you a lousy comforter?  "I don't think so", is more than likely to be your answer. The worse part is  that lousy comforters don't realize they are lousy at what they do. Job's friends never went home thinking they were mean or insensitive; they went home thinking, how stubborn Job was. Every Church has a small leak. It's like the tire that keeps needing air every week or so. You put air in and it slowly leaks out. The Church has a small leak and what's causing the leak is lack of  people skills in it's members. Allot of effort can go in to evangelism, but the church will not grow; because for all the people evangelism draws in, just as many are driven out, by people with long term status in the church, that are dogmatic with those that have come in and are insensitive to what they say or the questions they ask. After all these years of studying God 's Word and being Jewish believers, why are Job's friends so lousy at comforting their friend and so deficient in people skills? I believe as with everything else, if we truly want to know the truth, God will reveal it to us. Pride will not open itself up to criticism, but humility will welcome it. The questions to ask and be open to what you hear, is..."Lord am I dogmatic, Lord am I insensitive, Lord do I lack empathy, Lord do I lack people skills, Lord am I a lousy comforter?