Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Check Your Vision

(Hebrews 5:11-14)

Our Savior is greater than our suffering. Here, those who had fallen back into Judaism were compared to those who wouldn’t move forward at Kadesh-barnea (Hebrews 4), and the writer is saying that the reason they keep looking back is that they have not moved forward in their understanding of the superiority of Christ. Knowing Christ more fully makes us realize that He is easily worth having to deal with anything we have to while on this earth.

The question remains today: when the chips are down will we want to have our comfort, or will we take on the giants even when no one else is coming with us? Do we trust and treasure Christ? For those that are maturing the answer is a lot easier than for those who don’t understand the character of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 – Whatever we do ought to reflect who He is, but when we only understand that superficially, it only takes superficial things to knock us down, keep us down, or turn us away.

We know God is almighty but we need to understand HOW He is the most and all mighty, why He is the way He is, what His plans and promises are. When we can truly see His radiance everything else looks dull. We say we understand that but we don’t practice ourselves to further understand that. They were dull because they saw Christ as dull, not as bright as He truly is, that is why the writer wanted to go on to understand the perfections of Christ but they weren’t even ready for that yet, they were worrying about their friends first.

Yes we should be concerned about our unsaved friends, big time, but these were friends who had been in the camp and then turned away and were enticing them to turn away also. They were not really friends but frauds, and it was time to move forward not fall back. They couldn’t take the others with them and they couldn’t wait around any longer for them. There comes a time and it is when they are influencing you more than you are influencing them. When in doubt the time has run out. If you continue to move forward you will see them fall away anyway, don’t stop moving toward God and godliness. You’ve been blessed; don’t look back. You have to make a choice; standing still isn’t a choice.

Christians must grow; they become disciples or deserters. These Hebrews weren’t learning (vs.11), they weren’t skilled (vs.12-13) and they weren’t developed (vs.14). It is no wonder they were having trouble. It is no wonder some stay still or fall back because they haven’t grown up! Staying still is not really an option because those who have fallen back will beckon you back, and situations will only make it worse. We can fail to discern that we are falling back, we will just move on but not forward, avoiding trouble as best we can, but we aren’t as smart as we think we are, and we are in trouble, and we will see blessing and suffering in the wrong way. Have you had an eye exam lately?

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Monday, September 29, 2008

Driving Forward or Drifting Back

(Hebrews 5:11-14)

There is something wrong with many Christians today, and it is something that has plagued the Christian church from its inception. Not that there is anything wrong with Christianity, or Christ, but with people failing to mature and also others who ought to know better falling prey to deception so easily. It is amazing to me that some people never seem to change and obvious poison is swallowed up like candy.

Of course, this has happened to me in the past, and sometimes deception can be well disguised, but we are supposed to become more discerning as we grow in Christ, and if we are not, then it is a sign that we are not as mature as we may think we are, and are therefore ripe for even more deception, distraction, and a growing lack of discernment. The truth is that we will either push forward in the truth or we will be pulled back from it. Those that think they can get away with standing still are falling back and don’t even know it. You will either be increasing in your concentration on Christ, or the world. You either move on to maturity or you stay in perpetual adolescence at best, wasting years of time.

The background to this text is that we are looking at two sets of people: one who had fallen away, and another who were looking back. The writer to the Hebrews was warning the others that they needed to move on, and that they must break away from those who were wavering and wandering if they did not come with them. It was decision time, and time to look and live forward and stop looking back, and those who were looking forward were being told that they must eventually separate from those who won’t separate from the apostates.

So we have three camps forming: one who had definitely fallen away, and weren’t coming back, one who were moving forward, being told not to look back, and the third, in the middle, standing still. This third camp is the people who were not getting it; they had become dull of hearing, not with their ears, but with their heart, and they were in danger. You will wind up in one camp or another and the problem is many think they don’t have to make a choice. In their minds, they are already saved and have made the choice, but when the tests come to see if they are truly believers, they will eventually fall back into the camp they never really came out of in the first place. They were like Lot’s wife; her heart never really left Sodom and Gomorrah.

This applies very easily to us today.

They had been suffering under persecution and some had departed and went back to Judaism, because it was easier. Now these others were being warned that they should not even be considering going back, that they needed to separate from those who had because they weren’t coming back to Christ again, and that these that had remained but who were wavering had better get on the ball and get learning and discerning and stop thinking that Christianity was the way out of suffering but instead learning that it was the way to see through it. Were they going to have faith and move on into Christ or fall back into their old, more comfortable position? This was the question, and the way to do it right was to keep growing, forward.

The reason some never move forward is that they keep looking back. "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God"(Luke 9:62).

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Friday, September 26, 2008

Back to the Bottle

Hebrews 5:11-14

Why People Fail to Discern

· Problem with Submission (vs.11)

· Problem with Study (vs.11)

· Problem with Slippage (vs.12)

· Problem with Skills (vs.13)

· Problem with Swallowing (vs.14)

How to Learn to Discern

· Stop Turning Your Head (vs.11)

· Start Turning the Pages (vs.11)

· Training Before Teaching (vs.12, 14)

· Learn to Drink the Milk (vs.13)

· Perfect Practice Makes Perfect (vs.14)

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Greater than our Failure

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
(1 Corinthians 15:58 – ESV)

Christians should not be known primarily for what we don’t do, but what we will do. The ministry of helps is just as valuable as all the other ministries God calls us to. 1 Corinthians 12:27-28 – He has appointed and so He has anointed. It is tremendously important that is why we have and need so many with these gifts. In all the little things you do it may seem like no one cares, but believe me, God’s secret service men and women will be highly paid in heaven. The unnoticed things God notices, He will appreciate all your unappreciated work, it is not in vain.

As a pastor I struggle. Understanding this promise changes our perspective and motivation. If we believe and act in accordance with this promise it helps keep us from compromising the truth.

The proper motivation is God’s glory, we need to change our ideas, and we need to leave the results to God. Don’t compromise to get results; your labor is not in vain. It is worth it, in heaven you will see that it was but you need to realize that now and be more concerned for Jesus and His glory than for people and your glory. Are you aiming to please the crowd or the Crown?

Without a proper esteem and love for Christ Himself, and an understanding of His covenant love for His church, we will lack the motive and power to serve Him in the world. If our ultimate motivation for service for God is simply because we love people, we will never be able to sustain the call to service that God has given to us because the very people we are called to serve will break our hearts. It is only the grace of Christ that enables us to persevere. Jesus had His heart broken but His love for His Father kept Him on course.

All of the hardships our missionaries have to suffer, the demonically inspired ethnic cleansing, the killing of hundreds of Christians, burning churches, burning people, all in the name of lies, but the truth is that all of this is not in vain. Hebrews 13:3 – Their destiny is tied up with our destiny (1 Corinthians 6:17). Their hope is our hope. Their God is our God, and their labor is not in vain!

Even though we have our trials, and our tribulations, we face a difficult life, pressure and persecution are always near, and death knocks on every doorstep, still we can know in no uncertain terms that our labor in the Lord is worth it all, it is not ever in vain. I know that one day in eternity I will see members of the congregation that the Lord has given me, members who have lost loved ones, members who have had cancer and died, members who lost their jobs, their homes, their health, their spouse, their children, their minds, that found themselves the enemies of the world, and our friends overseas who have gone to jail and given their very lives for the sake of the gospel, I know that one day in heaven we will all be glad, grateful, and glorifying the great God of our salvation in eternal bliss together, forever. We will sit down and feast at the great marriage supper of the Lamb and we will know it was all worth it.

These things may be above and beyond our understanding but they are not above and beyond our God, and He says that all our struggles, our hurts, our losses, and our work will not be in vain. He sent His Son to make that promise sure. He has made provision for our every mistake. We can look to Christ, we can look to the Cross, and we can know that God will make it all right (Acts 2:23 / Romans 8:28). He is greater than our failures. It is all by His grace, and that grace is not given in vain. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all (2 Corinthians 13:14). Amen.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Good to the Last Drop

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
(1 Corinthians 15:58 – ESV)

People talk of Christianity and say they “have tried it but didn’t like it”. Some Christians, when exhorted to grow in the grace of God say, “it doesn’t work for me”. However, it is not if it “works” for us, but that we are to be working for Him, and it is not in vain. You have to be patient (Hebrews 6:10-12). You cannot grow unless you are stretched. The time in transition is the time for transformation. You can learn from your mistakes. Your struggle for excellence instead of settling for more than mediocrity, to be a man or a woman of quality rather than just going with the flow, to get good grades, to have a godly marriage, to stand firm in the faith and not just compromise to avoid confrontation, is it worth it? Yes it is not in vain.

Why do anything extra when I’m saved anyway? Because we have a sure word from God that all our effort, our energy, and our existence is not in vain in the Lord. Paul says “Therefore” – All of this promise is based on the work of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:14,17). The work of Christ was and is not in vain. Not one drop of the most precious commodity in the universe, the blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19) was spilt in vain. He arose from the dead to prove it.

Romans 3:25-26 – the preaching of the cross, the power over death and sin, and the vindication of God’s righteousness is never in vain. Jesus life and death were not in vain, it gave God glory, it showed His love, and of all who God gave Christ, He has lost none (John 6:37-39, 17:2). We cannot stop the power of God. The world may not see the truth but your work in the Lord is not futile but fruitful. Your work is not in vain because His work was not and is not in vain (Galatians 6:7-10 / Ephesians 6:7-8 / Colossians 3:17,23-24).

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

60 Seconds (16)


Morgan Blake, a writer for the “Atlanta Journal,” wrote the following: “I am more deadly than the screaming shell from the howitzer. I win without killing. I tear down homes, break hearts, and wreck lives. I travel on the wings of the wind. No innocence is strong enough to intimidate me, no purity pure enough to daunt me. I have no regard for truth, no respect for justice, no mercy for the defenseless. My victims are as numerous as the sands of the sea, and often as innocent. I never forget and seldom forgive. My name is Gossip.”

In Proverbs 6:16 – 19, we read of seven things God hates, and three relate to the tongue: a lying tongue, a false witness, and sowing discord. Augustine had a motto printed on the wall of his dining room: “He that speaks an evil word of an absent man or woman is not welcome at this table.”

We read in Proverbs 26:21, “The words of a talebearer (gossip or slanderer) are as wounds, and they go down into the inmost parts of the body.” Someone stated, “Of all the wounds inflicted upon others, the hardest to heal are those made by the tongue.” Dr. A. B. Simpson declared, “I would rather play with forked lightning or take in my hands living wires, than to speak a reckless word against any servant of Christ, or idly repeat the slanderous darts which thousands of Christians are hurling on others to the hurt of their own souls and bodies.”

Christ said in Matthew 12:34, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” By examining the tongue of the patient, physicians find out the diseases of the body, philosophers discover the diseases of the mind, and God knows the sins of the heart. The Jewish teachers taught: “Four persons are shut out from the presence of God – the scoffer, the hypocrite, the liar, and the retailer of slander.”

A Greek philosopher asked his servant to provide the best dish possible. The servant prepared a dish of tongue, saying, “It is the best of all dishes, because with it we may bless and communicate happiness, dispel sorrow, remove despair, cheer the fainthearted, inspire the discouraged, and say a hundred other things to uplift mankind.” Later, the philosopher asked his servant to provide the worst dish of which he could think. A dish of tongue appeared at the table. The servant said, “It is the worst, because with it we may curse and break human hearts, destroy reputations, promote discord and strife, set families, communities, and nations at war with each other. “

“The proof that you have God’s Spirit in your life is not that you speak with an unknown tongue, but that you know how to control the tongue that you do know about,” (J. Sidlow Baxter).

Psalm 19:14, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.”

Dave Arnold, Pastor, Gulf Coast Worship Center, New Port Richey, Florida


“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Monday, September 22, 2008

Worthy of the Work

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
(1 Corinthians 15:58 – ESV)

Why bother to labor? It is worth the work, because He is worth the work; even if it doesn’t seem to work out it is worth it. God says your labor is NOT in vain! If we pray and nothing seems to happen (Habakkuk 3:17-19), having to put up with a bad boss (1 Peter 2:19-21), etc., it was still not in vain.

To continue on in the fight means that you have faith, you rest assured that Christ has won the fight, that is why you soldier on, even amidst disappointment and failure, struggle and battle. Jesus has won the war, and in faith we carry out the fight. To give up the fight is to give up the faith. Your struggle with trying to read your Bible / study your Bible / learn your Bible / your struggle with witnessing / prayer / giving to the church / people in the church / sin / doubt / depression / pain / suffering / your health / your family / your finances / your marriage / with loneliness, lack, life, and love / when everything is a mess / when nothing is working / with God’s will, none of it is in vain in the Lord.

Just one glimpse of Him in glory will the toils of life repay.”

We aim to please God, not to get something from Him, but because we have already received something, His love. We try to imitate Him because it is the right thing to do, because it glorifies God, because we love Him, and because we want to, or at least we want to want to...but even when we fail, we look to Him with faith and realize the reason we can or want to do any of this anyway is because He has already done it for us, and it is His righteousness, His glory, His love, His "want to", and His perfect life that counts for us. Our labor is not in vain, why, because His labor was and is not in vain.

All my eggs are in this one basket, I am “all in” based on His promise, His life, His death, His resurrection; it shows His character, and I am banking my life, my soul, my all on it! He is worthy of the work! I am not holding anything back; He is worth the work! Our work does not save us, but it does praise Him, and it is not in vain.

Every little thing you did for God’s glory you will be eternally grateful for. He is so wonderful; He gives you the power to do it! He lives through you that you might give glory to Him. The more you treasure Him here the more treasure you lay up in heaven. You may not see it now, but the exchange rate is very well worth it (Romans 8:18).

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Friday, September 19, 2008

I Have a Promise

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
(1 Corinthians 15:58 – ESV)

There is so much uncertainty in the world today, and we often strive for things with no apparent or failing results. There seems to be vanity today and everyday. So much that we do seems to be in vain. What’s the use? When everything around us seems to be crumbling, why bother? If we are saved, why go the extra mile? Why do anything more if no one is going to appreciate it, what good will it do anyway, how will this one little thing make any difference? All this is going to do is cause me more trouble than it is worth. In the big scheme of things, why go through all the trouble when it really doesn’t make that big of a difference?

Here’s why. Paul says therefore. In other words, because Christ has risen from the dead, we as Christians will also rise, and all of our work here on this earth in the Lord will not be in vain.

I want you to seize on this one promise, a promise that is as big as you want it to be, a promise that is as good as the character of our God, a promise that is built upon nothing less than the person and work of Our Lord Jesus Christ, a promise that cannot fail. A promise that will undergird you, motivate and inspire you, guide you and grace you for whatever may lie ahead in this life, no matter how great or how small, how difficult or how exciting, this one promise stands as a towering reminder of the promise of God to all His children. That promise is the reason for our practice.

· We should be convicted by this promise (steadfast)
· We should be controlled of this promise (immovable)
· We should be compelled by this promise (always abounding in the work of the Lord)
· We should be convinced by this promise (knowing that)
· We should be comforted by this promise (in the Lord your labor is not in vain)

I love being inspired. Inspiring men, with inspired dreams, and inspired words, and with inspiring ideas, this has always inspired me. Dr. Martin Luther King, Martin Luther, and Patrick Henry have inspired me. I appreciate the imagination to inspire, the will to win, the courage to convict and convince, and the desire to see men and women rise up to their potential.

But men and women are all a part of this fallen human race, and no amount of inspiration, imagination, vision, hard work, and unity of purpose will truly carry us to the Promised Land. We need something more, something sure.

I have found it.

This is about more than a man who has been to the top of the mountain, but about the One who has been to the heights of heaven, down to the depths of hell, and He can lift us up, and help us to see God Himself. It is about the One who was anointed to proclaim good news to the poor, release to the captives, recovering of sight to the blind, and liberty to those who are oppressed.

I have more than a dream, more than a hope, more than a potential, more than an inspiring idea. I have a promise from God and so do you. I have more than inspiration, I have empowerment, the grace of God that adorns this promise; our work in the Lord is not in vain. Even when we do not rise, but when we fall, and when we fail, this promise still stands for it is based on our Lord’s work, it is His grace that saves us and allows us to do anything good anyway. Our hope, our destiny, our dream and our faith is not dependent upon our own power but it is rooted in God’s power. He cannot fail even if we fail. We cannot lose because He cannot lose. I have more than a dream; I have a promise.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Prophetic or Predictable?

Do not be deceived: "Bad company ruins good morals."
(1 Corinthians 15:33 – ESV)

Sometimes it is obvious what certain behaviors, associations, and beliefs will lead to. Just as God warns His children, so too we warn our children that doing certain things will yield certain results, things that we can see easily but that they rebel against. Yet as adults we still think we can avoid the baggage that inevitably attaches itself to us as we try and do things “our way”. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you (James 4:7-8a).

Listen, you don’t have to be a prophet to watch the grass grow. You are either going in one direction or the other. The question is which lawn are you watering?

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Standard

because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.
(Acts 17:31 – ESV)

The resurrection shows that Jesus will be the judge of humanity (Acts 10:42), and also the standard of righteousness by which all shall be judged (Romans 1:4).

Why does a good God allow evil? It is because He is merciful. If He were to institute instant justice none of us would make it through the day.

When we say that God has all power, we mean all, ALL, A-L-L power...He is the Creator, but also the sustainer, and yes the allow-er, but also the forgiver.

Jesus has been given all power (Matthew 28:18)…be a standard bearer and tell your world of His righteousness and His power to save.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Moment of Clarity (2)

Part of building up the true is knocking down the false.

2 Corinthians 10:5 – We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,

People sometimes presume a posture of taking the high road by accusing others who speak the truth of being harsh and unloving. They might say that we should try writing something that edifies. However, to build up the good edifice means we need to break down the bad one in its place. It is a positive thing to speak negative words about false and evil things.

Ephesians 4:29 – Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

When we speak to put evil in its place, we are not using corrupting talk; we are talking about that which is corrupt.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Moment of Clarity

Just because we are all in the same sin boat doesn’t mean we aren’t supposed to tell the other person when he is letting in water, or that we aren’t supposed to shout “man overboard” when someone decides they want to make a splash.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Edge

…because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.
(2 Peter 2:2 – ESV)

Too often Christianity or Christian principles are “sold” as the key to getting ahead in life. It is taught that following God’s plan for your life is the way to get the edge you need to be successful. We tell unbelievers that they need to add God to their lives in order to truly shine. We sell weak or make-believe believers the idea that they need to do this or that “scripturally based” plan for prosperity in order to get on with their faith walk.

Of course it is given a Christian veneer such as “being successful will help you to be a better witness” or “better able to help others”. Friends, you cannot baptize self-indulgence into sanctity by starting off a sentence or book with “it is not about you”. It may appease you conscience to think that you want to be successful so that you can glorify God, but in that case your conscience is seared, not cleared. You cannot want improvement for yourself first so that you can then serve God “better”; that is just covering up your own desire for comfort. It isn’t wrong to want comfort and relief, but you are called firstly to serve God no matter what, thanking Him for any and every opportunity you get, despite hardship.

What matters is the quality of service not the quantity, and the amount of money or time or success you have into it all isn’t the quality, it is the quantity. Your degree of surrendered heart is the quality, and if you think more success, wealth, influence, etc. is going to make you a better servant, then your heart is not even close to being half surrendered. Mark my words: if you think that garnering recognition or being noteworthy means you are more useful to God, then you are seriously deceived and spiritually immature, at best, if you are even regenerate at all.

If you receive blessing in the form of worldly success, notoriety, comfort, money or things like that, praise His name. But would you praise His name the same if you didn’t? I think not, at least for those who buy into the modern pseudo Christian paradigm of the prosperity preachers.

Notice this about them; it is always about you, becoming a better you will make you better for God, they say in so many words. If you are not as successful in terms of money and worldly influence as you could be, you either lack faith, or you aren’t as glorifying to God as you should be. It gives God more glory for you to be the head and not the tail, they say. They repeat blessing verses as mantra, saying, “God has plans to prosper you, to give you a hope and a future”. Oh yes, the bible says things like that, but not in the same way that they sell it to you, they take the scripture out of context. Applying this to everyone in every situation, they twist the oft-quoted scripture to mean a universal umbrella of unlimited blessing from God. Does that match the life of Christ, or Paul, or John the Baptist?

They make the bible appear to teach what they want to foist upon you by using their modern day magic, their superstitious scripture sorcery. They start by taking several scriptures out of context, and out of the greater biblical scope. Then, by putting them together, they fashion a beautiful string of pearls, woven together to make a shining adornment to their teachings. But that string of pearls is just an albatross, God’s Word applied wrongly becomes more poisonous than any self-help book could possibly imagine, and the devil delights especially in this.

We need to discover Jesus, not as a means to our own ends, but as the end to our own means. When make-believers go looking for the edge, they often find it within so called Christian principles and such, but the total truth is that while they have found the edge, it isn’t what they think it is. They are on the edge, all right, but they are actually dangling their hearts over the precipice of hell. No amount of professing their false Christ will keep them from slipping off.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I Don’t Want What You Got

But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all…
(2 Timothy 3:9 – ESV)

I don’t need to worry about all the “I receive this” and “I rebuke that” teaching as if we had that sort of power, as if we were sovereign over the details. That is what those false teachers will tell you, and then they will blame it all on you when it goes wrong. I don’t worry about all that because I trust a sovereign God who works out everything for my good, even when He leads me to cry out Abba Father in my trials, I know He has predestined me as a child of God and nothing can separate me from the love He has for me in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:14-39).

I just follow Christ as best I can by following the scriptures, learning what they teach, fellowshipping with other believers of like precious faith and praying to God, asking Him to make me fruitful in every good work (Colossians 1:10), and trusting Him no matter what happens because I know He will never leave me nor forsake me (Hebrews 13:5). I try and change what I can, I strive for excellence in all I do, and I praise His name in every little detail, because I know He knows what to do better than me and I pray that He gives me the perspective to see His goodness even when bad things happen to me or my loved ones. I receive God’s plan for my life no matter what.

2 Peter 1:16-19 – Jesus told Peter to come down off the Mount of Transfiguration, and God calls us who are converted, those who have been born again to come down off the mount of our great experiences and dive in to the scriptures. We could have the most incredible experience, like Peter had at the Mount of Transfiguration, and the Word is still surer than that.

We hear a lot these days of “impartation” and spiritual powers that are “transferable”. Of course this transfer always seems to impart some wild manifestation or falling down. We have had so many people fall down and yet modern Christianity never seems to look up. It doesn’t do you any good to fall down today if you fall away tomorrow.

Now let me tell you, the scriptures are the impartation and they are transferable, and we are to be transformed by the renewing of your mind not an out of your mind experience. I don’t need you to impart some spirit to me I already have the Holy Spirit. I don’t want you to impart some anointing on me I already have Jesus, the Anointed One living in me. The Spirit won’t make me act like you it will make me act like Jesus who sent the Spirit to me.

They say, “Come get some” but I don’t need some of what they got when I’ve got somebody who is God the Son. I don’t need some new Apostle to tell me what to do when the old ones already told me what to do. I don’t need a word from a prophet when I’ve got the more sure prophetic Word. I’ve got an inheritance waiting for me in heaven, and I’ve got what I need right now. I don’t need something more.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Enthusiasm – Earthly or Eternal?

Do not lag in zeal, be enthusiastic in spirit, serve the Lord.
(Romans 12:11 – NET)

When God is exalted we should be excited, but even when the atmosphere doesn’t seem exciting, when God is exalted His Spirit is moving, guaranteed. Of course this means we need to truly understand when it is that God is truly exalted, and not that we are simply making casual mention of Him, or that we use Him as a reference to say what we really want to say.

Goosebumps aren’t the guarantee, His Word is. Usually when God is moving Satan is right there too, and that is why instead of people getting excited you see them getting enraged, they love their sin and they hate God and light is dispelling the darkness and God is moving. Just try and preach at someplace you know people don’t want to hear it, and you will see God move. If you want confirmation, look to the Bible, not to your blessings.

Yes we should praise God for those times when we see His grace manifest in our daily lives and through incidental encounters. It is a blessing to see God move people to repentance and faith within the church or evangelistic settings. Having said that, we all should know that this often isn’t the case. Many times we will have been right there where God was moving greatest, but it seemed boring. That is why, as a way of life, we need to be stirred from the inside before we are stirred from the outside. And we need to be stirred by the right things.

People say that they can tell when the Spirit is moving, but what they really mean is that they can sense when things are flowing right, at least to their understanding. When people seem to be on the same page and things just seem not to bother us, or when the music is “right” or everyone is excited, and everything just seems to be smooth, even if chaotic. People think that is when “the anointing” is present, or whatever, but all that is just your feelings. Often we may be looking at and listening to outward things that stir our insides into thinking this is God, when it may or may not be. I am just as guilty as the next guy in the fact that I like it when things are “flowing”, but we all need to be trained to have a fervent spirit even when things seem mundane. If we are full of the Spirit we will flavor all we do. If we are truly exalting Christ things will be happening.

The whole “I want more” idea points to “I”, not to Jesus, and that “I” is not the eye of faith. The truth is that people don’t really want something more; they want something else. We have all we need for faith and godliness (2 Timothy 3:16-17 / 2 Peter 1:3-4), and we have all we need to be stirred in our souls as a way of life.

This is not mere information for developing an intellectual acumen. We need to learn to match our knowledge with a godly zeal. We have an inheritance and we are kept by the power of God and even though we don’t see Him we can still have joy unspeakable and full of glory. We even have more than if we see something happening because we know that something is happening in the unseen realm because we have faith (1 Peter 1:3-8). Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). Let me ask you a question: Is the world coloring your vision, or is your vision coloring your world?

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

60 Seconds (15)


Two of William Booth’s workers were sent out by the Salvation Army to have revival. They tried everything…free dinners, socials, etc. They found out the people would come out for “soup and soap,” but not salvation. They wrote General Booth a letter of frustration, stating that the work was so hard, and they were making no progress. When asked the question, “What should we do?” the General sent a telegram back with two words, “Try tears!”

In Psalm 102:17 we read, “He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and will not despise their prayer.” The word “regard” means, “He looks upon,” or “He turns Himself to their prayer.” “Destitute” is from a word which signifies an insignificant, unattractive shrub or bush in the wilderness. It is probably the dwarf juniper, which has a gloomy stunted appearance, symbolizing those who are stripped of everything, wholly destitute, and desperate. The words “and will not despise their prayer” mean that “the Lord will incline His ear to hear, His heart to consider, and His hand to help.”

A cartoon shows Dennis The Menace walking with his friend, with Dennis telling him, “I say my prayers every night because God is a regular listener.” The Jewish Rabbis have said the following about prayer, “God is as near to His creatures as the ear to the mouth.” William Barclay declared, “Human beings can hardly hear two people talking at once, but God, if all the world calls to Him at one time, hears their cry.”

Moses found himself in a desperate situation at the Red Sea. In Exodus 14:15, the Lord asked him, “Why do you cry to Me?” Adam Clarke comments, “We hear not one word of Moses praying, and yet here the Lord asks him why he cries to Him? From this we may learn that the ‘heart’ of Moses was deeply engaged with God, though it is probable he did not ‘articulate’ one word; but the language of ‘sighs, tears,’ and ‘desires’ is equally intelligible to God with that of words.”

“True prayer is not the noisy sound, that clamorous lips repeat,

But the deep silence of a soul, that clasps Jehovah’s feet.”

John Bunyan told how beggars used to carry with them a bowl when they went to beg at a house. Some of them brought only small bowls. However rich and bountiful the householder might be, he could not give them more that their bowl could contain. Others brought great bowls, and carried them home full!


Dave Arnold, Pastor, Gulf Coast Worship Center, New Port Richey, Florida


“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Monday, September 08, 2008

60 Seconds (14)


A young college student, in his freshman year, was struggling with a course in French. He was so discouraged that he wrote home to his parents expressing his temptation to drop out of school. His dad sent him a poster of a young man, around nineteen years of age, in his football uniform. He was sitting dejectedly at the far end of the bench, covered with mud, his hair disheveled, and his face buried in his hands. The caption reads, “I Quit.” Elihu Root said, “Men do not fail; they give up trying.”

Here are some thoughts about “The Honor Of Wanting To Quit,” then some input on “How Not To Quit.” First, the reasons for this title, “The Honor Of Wanting To Quit.”

· Wanting to quit is a sign of success, because only successful people can quit.

· The more you have to quit, the more you want to quit. Samuel Johnson declared, “Great works are performed not by strength, but by perseverance.”

· You can enjoy the luxury of wanting to quit if you know you’re not going to quit. Wanting to quit, and actually quitting are not the same.

· Quitting is really changing. Sometimes we all need a change, but don’t quit on an unfinished task, calling it change.

Second, “How Not To Quit.”

· Burn the bridges behind you. Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “To reach the port of heaven we must sail, sometimes with the wind and sometimes against – but we must sail, not drift or lie at anchor.”

· Don’t expose yourself to what you do not want to be. Ten years from now you will be what you read, view, and listen to via the media, and the people you associate with. Albert Einstein warned, “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.”

· Don’t tell anyone you want to quit, when you want to quit (except for a close trusted friend, and, even then, be cautious).

· Lock yourself in so you can’t quit. Have a fixed and determined spirit. Great people are just ordinary people who just don’t quit. Marylin vos Savant stated, “Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent.”

Now, for the rest of the story. I began with the illustration about the poster showing a young football player, despondent and defeated, with the caption, “I Quit.” However, down on the bottom of the poster is a little picture of a black hill outside of Jerusalem, with a very crude cross, and next to it these words, “I didn’t!”

Dave Arnold, Pastor, Gulf Coast Worship Center, New Port Richey, Florida

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Friday, September 05, 2008

Words Like Arrows

He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit.
(Proverbs 17:27)

The book of Proverbs solidifies its teachings by posing its truths in many forms. This verse, telling us to use only those words that are necessary, is given to us again in Proverbs 10:19 – In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise. This is done throughout the book, so as to concretize the ideas in our minds and hearts.

Now let’s think about that a minute. Consider that fact, that in different forms the verses are said over and over again. In the light of that, this verse seems to contradict its own logic. Yet this is not a problem upon review. Sparing our words means being deliberate in our speech. When we do this we lessen the likelihood of “putting our foot in our mouth”. If we have knowledge we do not need to decorate it with many words, we can get right to the heart of the matter.

That doesn’t mean that we cannot or should not repeat what we have to say, or say it in a different way, in order for it to hit the target. The Apostle Paul said to the Philippians, “To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you” (Philippians 3:1 – NASB). Shooting a million arrows is no good if none hit the target, and if we shoot only one but it hits the heart, much better. And sometimes a hard heart needs several hits.

It is about being intentional with our words versus beings careless with them; that is what we should understand. We can also use different contexts and different situations with different words to convey the same truths. We need to consider our audience and learn to discern not only what to say but when and how to say it. Then our words can become a word in due season (Proverbs 15:23), and a word fitly spoken (Proverbs 25:11).

To be able to convey complex truths in a simple manner is a highly prized skill, and should be a goal of every theologian, pastor, and teacher of God’s Word. The “excellent spirit” here can also be translated “calm spirit”. Someone who knows what they are talking about can wait to speak since what they say will have resonance. The ESV renders Proverbs 17:27 thusly: Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.

This is not to say that speaking less is always the right thing to do, or that the person who uses the least words is always the wisest. Often we do need more than a few simple words to fully convey and discern complex truths and situations. Getting the point across is the point. Having said that, if we were more selective with our words, we would be more effective with our words.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Thursday, September 04, 2008

A Talk with Timothy

You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness,
(2 Timothy 3:10 – ESV)

If we could somehow have five minutes alone with Timothy and if he was exhorting us to fulfill our calling in the Lord, we can be sure as scripture that he would give us his take on Paul’s admonition to him. All we need to do is see the essence of what Paul’s two letters teach about discerning to realize that the same things Paul taught Timothy the Holy Spirit is teaching us, that is why these letters are canonized. The lesson plan for pastors is the same as it ever was.

Timothy would tell us to keep being nourished by the sound teaching you have been following after (1 Timothy 4:6-7). Let them see your progress and some will be saved from wanting to do it some other way (1 Timothy 4:13-16). Follow the Word not your whim, and always be on guard against error (2 Timothy 1:13-14). Teach other men what you have been taught, commit this to faithful men who will stick to it and not stray, make sure you teach right doctrine and not some novelty (2 Timothy 2:2,15).

It is going to get more and more difficult to teach because people will think they love God but they won’t really, they will just love themselves and play at their religion. Among such people come bad teachers, but don’t you be like them, you preach the Word, because they will be turning away to myths. Good teachers will be persecuted and the bad teachers will go from worse to worse and they will be popular not persecuted. You have followed my teaching and my pattern of life and I am telling you it is the right thing to do but it will bring persecution. Yes this makes it difficult, but you have seen me do it, now you follow suit (2 Timothy 3:1-13).

Timothy would tell us that he also went to prison for the faith (Hebrews 13:23). He would say that, in a sense, the measure is not whether you are popular but whether you are persecuted.

He would tell us to continue in the truth as Paul taught it to him, and now to you. Paul was not concerned with the new but the true, he never said you’ll be in trouble if you don’t follow what is new, but if you don’t follow what is true (2 Timothy 3:14).

You have been taught, and with the scriptures you have all you need to teach others and to live a godly life as an example (2 Timothy 3:15-17).

He would conclude – Preach the word, preach what you have learned, not that there are more words but preach the Word you already have (Jude 3). Preach no matter what else is going on, in the high times and in the dry times. People will think they are following the wind of the Spirit, but they are actually being carried away with every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14). People may not hear the truth anymore, but you endure it and fulfill your calling to be faithful to God (2 Timothy 4:1-5). That is what Paul taught me, and I am teaching you. It’s the same lesson plan.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

60 Seconds (13)


The Los Angeles Times ran an article about widespread petty theft. In it, an attorney admitted that he would wait for someone to purchase a newspaper from a vending machine and grab the door before it closed to get his paper without paying. He could afford the paper, so why would he do such a thing? He explained, “The newspaper makes so much money, taking one paper won’t matter.”

Solomon wrote, “Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord,” Proverbs 11:1. “Dishonest scales” is literally “balances of deceit,” and the word “abomination” implies an extraordinary degree of hatred and detestation. Charles Spurgeon told his church, “It is never to do a little wrong, to obtain the greatest possible good. Your duty is to do the right: consequences are with God; and after all it never can be, in the long run, a good thing either for you or for others to do wrong.”

Here are some dishonest practices condemned by the Bible. Using short weights and measures - Deuteronomy 25:13 – 15; Leviticus 19:35, 36. Cheating a seller – Proverbs 20:14. Refusing to pay wages – Jeremiah 22:13; Leviticus 19:13. Shifting landmarks – Job 24:2. Defrauding –Leviticus 6:2; 19:13. Borrowing without repaying – Psalm 37:21. Keith Miller spoke a word of concern when he stated, “It has never ceased to amaze me that we Christians have developed a kind of selective vision which allows us to be deeply and sincerely involved in worship and church activities, and yet almost totally pagan in the day in, day out guts of our business lives and never realize it.”

In Proverbs 20:23, we read that God “loathes all cheating and dishonesty” (TLB), and Paul wrote to Timothy about living a life of “honesty,” 1 Timothy 2:2. Madison Sarratt taught mathematics at Vanderbilt University for many years. Before giving a test, he would admonish his students, “Today I am giving two examinations – one in trigonometry and the other in honesty. I hope you will pass them both. If you must fail one, fail trigonometry. There are many good people in the world who can’t pass trigonometry, but there are no good people in the world who cannot pass the examination of honesty.”

“No legacy is so rich as honesty” (William Shakespeare Emerson).

Dave Arnold, Pastor, Gulf Coast Worship Center, New Port Richey, Florida


“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Sharpen the Sword

and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,
(Ephesians 6:17 – ESV)

When we “mess up”, it isn’t as if Jesus leaves us because we sin. We may grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30) and thus lose the joy of our salvation, and feel He is far away, but as we draw near (James 4:8), in repentance, He is right there with us. We need to remember the difference between relationship and fellowship, judicial (Romans 5:1 / 2 Corinthians 5:21) and parental forgiveness (1 John 1:9). Things like keeping in your Word are what sharpen the sword, so to speak, and keeping in repentance and prayer keeps the armor feeling snug, in a sense. It doesn’t fall off; it just needs to be refastened. We let it sag, not realizing we are wearing it and utilizing it in defense.

It is always the season to sharpen your skills. You need to remind your mind of these truths everyday, and then they will begin to sink in, talk to your self about God before your self talks to you about you. 1 Thessalonians 5:8 helps to clarify the meaning here, “and for a helmet the hope of salvation”. We have absolute assurance of our salvation no matter how fierce the battle becomes.

When you don’t believe you can be deceived, that’s when you already are. By this I mean that we are not as invulnerable as we think we are, not if we think we can slack in the spiritual life. Even Peter, after receiving the revelation of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God, the greatest revelation of all time, which Jesus said was given to Peter by God the Father (Matthew 16:16-19), apparently just moments later (vs.22-23), Jesus rebukes him as if Peter was being led by Satan. At any given moment we can be deceived so we always need to be on guard. “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23).

This also points us back to the armor of God; we look to God and His Word as our defense, not our own feelings of wisdom and invulnerability. We are to be wise in God’s ways, not wise in our own eyes (Isaiah 5:21).

You need to keep renewing your mind around the truth. It is unbelief that is hindering you. Pray as the man in Mark 9:24, “I believe; help my unbelief!” You may be carrying the sword of the Spirit, which is already sharp (Hebrews 4:12), but it is your duty to learn to wield it properly.

Monday, September 01, 2008

60 Seconds (12)


A mortician at Forest Lawn Cemetery in California told of a man who, many years ago, spent $ 200,000 on his own funeral. Having become bitter towards his estranged wife and children, he squandered all his money on his own burial and left them nothing. Because the casket and other expenses added up to only $ 100,000, he directed that the remaining $ 100,000 be spent on orchids! Sadly, only three people attended that memorial service. What a warped sense of value and waste of money. What a lesson to be learned from harboring a spirit of bitterness.

The writer to the Hebrews warned that “any root of bitterness springing up” can “cause trouble, and by this many are become defiled” (12:15). The words “root of bitterness” are used metaphorically, speaking of how bitterness produces bitter fruit. Helen Grace, writing of bitterness, stated, “It grows. It distorts reality. It keeps us chained to the past. Like bad air, it pollutes not just the bitter person, but those who come in contact with the person.”

Nothing is more counterproductive to the human spirit than bitterness and resentment. These two enemies of our lives have ruined people throughout history. Some go through life blaming their parents for their failures. Ministers have left their pulpits, and families have been destroyed because of resentment and bitterness being out of control. Pastor Dan Betzer wrote, “My friends in the medical profession tell me that bitterness often causes physical problems such as nervous disorders, heart disease, and ulcers. And mental problems such as paranoia have their seeds in bitterness.”

Bitterness corrodes the spirit. This was true of Judas Iscariot. Over time, he became so revengeful and bitter towards the Lord, that nothing could save him. Not even the sight of Jesus kneeling before him to wash his feet (John 13:5), and not even the final appeal of Jesus at the supper table (John 13:26). Sadly, his bitterness destroyed him (Matthew 27:5). Charles Buxton warned, “Bad temper is its own scourge. Few things are more bitter that to feel bitter. A man’s venom poisons himself more than his victim.”

Bitterness kills. Corrie Ten Boom, survivor of Ravensbruck, helped to establish hospitals in Holland to care for the sick who had come through Nazi concentration camps during World War 11. In her work, Miss Ten Boom observed a strange phenomenon. Those who refused to forgive the Germans for their cruelty declined in health, and a number of them died. However, those who chose to forgive their tormentors steadily improved, and eventually went home. FORGIVENESS HEALS.

Ephesians 4:31, “Let all bitterness…be put away from you.”

Dave Arnold, Pastor, Gulf Coast Worship Center, New Port Richey, Florida


“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©