Archive for April, 2010

House of Faith Built on the Rock

Daily God Walk for Friday, April 30, 2010

  Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.   – Matthew 7: 24-25

 When we read the words of Jesus, at least as his teachings was recorded by New Testament writers, we begin to realize that God is more concerned about what is inside a person than he is about their outward piety. We also learn that being the person Jesus asks us to be is far beyond the ability we humans possess.

We understand turning the other cheek, but we haven’t learned to that very well. The proverbial “going the extra mile” isn’t too difficult the first time, but what about the second, or third, or tenth time? When Jesus said that our righteousness must exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees he was challenging us beyond our human ability.

So then, what is the answer? Are we to just give up and say, “It’s too hard, no one can make it”? Or maybe we are just to conclude that we’re not perfect, just forgiven and everyone has to sin a little every day. How are we going to live the life he prescribed?

Jesus gave the answer to Nicodemus in John 3, “No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” The love and grace based teachings of Christ do not make sense in terms of human reasoning, yet we cannot even participate in the kingdom of God unless we embrace these teachings.

We hear the teachings of Christ, we believe them and we embrace them. We are then born into his kingdom. Now we can build the house of our life on the solid rock of truth. We can do that because he has birthed his Spirit in us and we have become a new creation from the inside out.

We can say with the songwriter Edward Mote, “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”

 Principle:  A life built on the truth of Christ will stand the storm.

 Affirmation:  On Christ the solid rock I stand.

 Prayer: Lord, help me to keep my feet firmly planted on the rock of truth which is the teachings of Christ. In Jesus name, amen.

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Is Just Crying “Lord, Lord” Really Enough?

Daily God Walk for Thursday, April 29, 2010

Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.   – Matthew 7:21

 The term “TV Evangelist” carries a negative connotation. In many circles if you want to get people talking negatively just mention a TV preacher you were listening to. Unfortunately, there is good cause for the unbelieving public to be totally disenchanted with preachers on TV. I’m a believer and much of what I see upsets me.

Not to say that there are not many sincere ministers who preach a consistent message of faith and redemption who have found a place on TV. But, the reality is that there are too many of them who cry, “Lord, Lord, haven’t we done these great things in your name,” yet when it comes to walking in the humility that Jesus projected they fall short.

This message is not a diatribe against TV preachers, but it is showing us that mixed among the sincere pastors and evangelists there are those whose “god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things” (Philippians 3:19).

The reality is that many of us face the same challenge on our own level. We try to provide for our own creature comforts while pleasing God at the same time. It seems easier to keep our faith on the periphery of our life while pursuing life on our own terms. When we are in church with other believers we find it easy to speak “Christianeze,” but in the workplace one has to look close to see any evidence of our faith.

In these concluding verses of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus seems to be calling people to be true to the core believers. Putting on the show for others to see our spirituality earns nothing with God. Only those whose heart is pure and whose works are genuine acts of love will be recognized as true believers.

God is looking for servants whose only motivation is love from a pure heart and whose works show Holy Spirit inspired compassion. 

 Principle:  God honors those who serve out of a pure heart.  

 Affirmation:  I keep my heart pure so my works are God’s works.

 Prayer:  Heavenly Father, help me to guard against putting on a show for others to see. Let my works be true acts of love and compassion. Amen.

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You Will Know Them By Their Fruit


Daily God Walk for Wednesday, April 28, 2010

  Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?    – Matthew 7:15-16

A false prophet is not someone who does not agree with my doctrine; a false prophet is one who claims to be a sincere minister of God’s word and who in fact is actually most concerned about promoting his own agenda. And his own agenda usually includes either gaining a power, or control, advantage over others or gaining a financial advantage.

Jesus is warning us to consider the fruit of a person’s life before we commit to following them. He spent a good deal of time exposing the hypocrisy of religious leaders in his day and we would do well to observe some of the things he observed.

At one time when we were involved in an outreach ministry a friend recommended someone to us who could help us with the business end of the ministry. This person was supposed to have successfully managed a number of businesses and was good at making a business profitable.

In a short time we discovered that this man was actually trying to take the ministry from us and was actually visiting places no minister should go and representing himself as owning our property. After a doing a little investigation we discovered that he had lost his previous businesses due to unscrupulous practices and he owed gambling debts around town.

We went through some hardship in the early days of that ministry because we were not careful to discern a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It is wise to look at the fruit of a person’s life before you take seriously what they say.

We should all be cautioned to look at the fruit of our own lives as well. The fruit that grows on our tree of life is a representation of the life that is in us. What is your fruit like?

Principle:  The fruit of your life reflects the person you really are.

Affirmation: I look at my fruit often to be sure I am right on the inside.

Prayer: Lord, give me wisdom to look inside and examine my own life, and give me to ability to discern wolves in sheep’s clothing 

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Don’t Invest in Bad Stock

Daily God Walk for Friday, April 23, 2010

  Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.                    – Matthew 7:6

  We’ve all heard of sacred cows, but here are a couple of other animals to consider; dogs and pigs. Most of us who have dogs will on occasion give them scraps from the table, but when we do that we do not normally feed them from our finest china, neither do we put it on a silver platter. And we would never take food from our children to feed the dog.

Along the same line we would feed a pig if we had one but we would not give them our precious jewels. Jesus is trying to help us establish some relationship boundaries in this passage.

Let’s summarize what he has said about relationships in this message so far. He speaks of loving our enemies, turning the other cheek and forgiving all who offend us. Then chapter seven opens with the “thou shalt not judge others” command that has been used so often by the guilty in their own defense. He winds up those words of advice with warning us concerning worrying about the faults of others when we have issues of our own with which to deal.

In verse six he takes a left turn and begins to instruct his hearers to be careful to choose wisely the ones in whom they will invest themselves. Why is this particular instruction given at this point? I have an opinion that is based upon experience.

Some people respond to the grace of forgiveness and kindness and will be so moved that their lives are forever changed. There are others who will only take advantage of every kindness you extend and not be affected at all.

We must continue to invest in those who respond, even when they fail from time to time, but we are to become wiser in dealing with those who don’t respond. We are to continue to be kind and forgiving, but we must also be wise and limit our exposure. After we turn the other cheek we should duck, turn around and get out of there.

We must be careful to not invest in bad stock.

 Principle:  Being wise and careful is the other side of kind and forgiving.

 Affirmation: I am careful of where I invest my pearls.

 Prayer: Lord, Help me to be kind and forgiving as well as wise and careful with what you have entrusted to me. In Jesus name, amen.

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What About the Plank in Your Eye?

Daily God Walk for Thursday, April 22, 2010

 Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye. How can you say to your brother, “let me take the speck out of your eye,” when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? – Matthew 7:3-4

 Ouch! That one really hits close to home. If we are honest we sometimes find there is a disconnect between accepting responsibility for our own inadequacy and working with the shortcomings of others. Along that line, it is thought by many that the reason most psychologists enter the field is that they are actually trying to find answers to their own angst.

I think one of the reasons we hear of so many leaders falling into sin is that they are so busy dealing with the “bigger issues” of the kingdom that they haven’t taken the time and made the effort to deal with the issues they face themselves.

Have you ever had someone who has obvious character flaws (like a plank in their eye) and they are trying to deal with you over some area of your life? We want to say, “What right to you have to tell me how to live?”

I was once a part of a group of ministers who believed it was a sin for a woman to wear pants. My views were changing and I wasn’t saying anything to the ladies in our congregation who wore pants. One of the brothers came to me with this question; “Pastor, if you let women wear pants then how are you going to deal with them when they were tight pants causing the men to lust after them?”

This man was asking the wrong question. He should have been asking how he was going to deal with the lust that came from his own heart when he saw a woman wearing tight pants. It seems to be the nature of man to want to get others “lined up,” but excuse themselves.

I have found it a good practice to daily pray as David prayed, “Hide not you’re your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:9-10). When I have found the peace of a pure heart then I can help my brother find the same peace I have found.

 Principle:  I can’t free others of sin until I am free myself.

 Affirmation: I daily ask God for the grace of a pure heart.

 Prayer: Lord, I find it easier to see the faults of others than to see my own. Help me to deal with the plank in my own eye. In Jesus name, amen.

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Judging Presumes Intent and Denies Grace

Daily God Walk for Wednesday, April 21, 2010

 Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.                           – Matthew 7:1-2

 The key to understanding this passage is in the phrase, “with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” After thinking this idea through I have come to the conclusion that the statement about judging is connected to the command about forgiving.

If we have unforgiveness toward another, then unforgiveness will be held out against us. If we presume that one who has offended us had evil intent, then we will be judged as if we had evil intent in our heart. Do you see how that works?

If we withhold grace from another then grace is blocked from covering our own sin. You and I need grace to cover our own sins, we can’t afford to let our attitude toward others to become an obstacle to our own walk with God.

When we look at another with bitterness in our heart, or if we carry a grudge toward another, or if vengeance is our motive for condemning the actions of another, then we are just setting ourselves up to receive the same judgment.

Let’s flip that coin and look at the other side. I have received grace, therefore I know its value. I extend grace to others because I want to see the same effect in their life as I have had in mine. I know the joy of being forgiven and I want that joy to be extended to others.

Grace abounds in us and joy exudes from us when we extend to others the same gift God has extended to us. If the measure we use for others is consistent with the measure that God has used with us then we have given grace to a brother, expanded the kingdom of God, and our reward is righteousness in his kingdom.

There is a reason the Psalmist wrote, “Great peace have they who love your law and nothing shall offend them” ( Psalm 119:165). When grace and forgiveness is the law by which we live we have great peace.

 Principle:  I extend grace to others just as I have received grace from God.

 Affirmation:  I am thankful that judging others is not my responsibility.

 Prayer:  Lord, help me to look at others through the grace that you have extended to me. In Jesus name, amen.

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Seek Him First And He Will Take Care of the Rest

Daily God Walk for Tuesday, April 20, 2010

  Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.    – Matthew 6:33-34

 Jesus concludes this part of his sermon by affirming that we can trust God to rule his kingdom well and that he is concerned about the subjects of the kingdom.

Christian leaders have done a disservice to believers by putting so much emphasis upon making a choice between heaven and hell that we have missed the point of living in the kingdom of God in the here and now.

Since the original sin in the Garden of Eden mankind has been on a quest to restore what was lost. His sin separated him from the peace of God and left him lost in a world full of dangers and pitfalls. Over the centuries man has traveled many paths trying to gain access to God’s acceptance; have peace and be restored to harmony with creation, but he has been left disillusioned and disappointed.

Jesus came offering an opportunity to have in a moment what men had been trying to acquire for centuries. He was offering an opportunity to be born again – to be born into the kingdom of God anew.

Jesus was offering all who would believe the opportunity to be  redeemed from the morass of despair, to be reconciled to God and restored to the person God had created man to be.

When Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom” he was offering the opportunity of a lifetime. He was telling us that God recognizes the mistakes of the past and he was offering a solution to the condition those mistakes created. All we are asked to do to gain access to God’s kingdom is to surrender the will which got man into trouble in the first place.

Surrendering our will and seeking his releases kingdom blessing.

 Principle: God offers freely what man has sought and not found.

Affirmation:  I have been born into the kingdom of God’s blessing.

 Prayer: Lord, I need your grace to give me strength to surrender my will to you and trust you fro my future. In Jesus name, amen.

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The Lord Will Provide

Daily God Walk for Monday, April 19, 2010

Do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. – Matthew 6:31-32

If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers – most of which are never even seen – don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. – The Message

It is easy to get so caught up in life that we lose sight of our life-source. Believers we are stressed over how the government is being run and how the economy is going. Pastors are stressed over the congregation and their response to the ministry. And Jesus is just telling us to take a step back; get another perspective and realize that this is God’s business, we’re just standing in for him.

Conservatives are saying we are losing our freedoms; liberals are saying we are destroying our planet; Believers are saying that things are so bad that we must be in the end times; and what does Jesus say? Jesus is saying, “Hey, take a chill pill. Relax! My father knows what is going on and he knows exactly what he is doing. Trust him and he won’t let you down.”

We need to just settle down and ask ourselves if we believe God is in control or not. If he is, then can we trust him to protect us and to provide for us? Logically we know that the answer to both of those questions is yes. Then, knowing that is true we must practice believing it.

If we are going to be running around guided by worry like the pagans, or Gentiles, or simply the citizens of this world system, then we are going to miss the best that God has for us. Trust Him – He is trustworthy.

Principle:  Trust God and he will prove that he is trustworthy.

Affirmation:  In these times all we can trust is God and his kingdom.

Prayer:  Lord, I do tend to become stressed over the circumstances of my life. Grant me the grace to wholly trust you. In Jesus name, amen.

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Trust is the Opposite of Worry

Daily God Walk for Sunday, April 18, 2010

  Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? – Matthew 6:25

 Worry is one of the primary causes of many debilitating diseases. The anxiety produced by worry can cause ulcers and studies have shown that arthritis is made worse by worry. Worry and stress are often the cause of heart ailments.

What is the cause of worry? Most worry comes from fear of loss; fear of losing health; fear of losing employment, which leads to fear of losing home and security. The list of things to worry about is as long as life itself and as long as we have something to lose we will be worried that we will lose it.

The implied message that Jesus is trying to get across is that worry is the result of not trusting. He is saying that if we trust God and his ability to provide we will have nothing to worry about.

Jesus goes on to say in verse 26 of this passage, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

We should note that verse 25 begins with, “Therefore.” Jesus is linking verse 25 with what he had just said in verse 24. The point seems to be that if we put our trust in the things of this world then we are limited to what this world can provide; if we put our trust in God then we are given access to the vast resources of heaven – but we can’t have it both ways.

Trusting the world system has us worrying about the government, the economic condition, our employment, our health, and anything else that we can worry about. Trusting God and his purposes for our life gives us hope and a secure future. We may not know what the future holds but we know who holds the future.

 Principle:  Trusting God removes the cause for worry.

Affirmation:  I do not worry because I have learned to trust God.

Prayer:  Lord, most of the time I don’t worry, but when I begin to trust the world system, I worry much. Grant me grace to trust you. Amen.

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You Are Serving Something Or Somebody

Daily God Walk for Saturday, April 17, 2010

 You Are Serving Something Or Somebody

 No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.        – Matthew 6:24

 Often when a person finds a new position with another company they will hand in their resignation to their current employer. It is very common that when a person resigns his employer will make his termination immediate and tell them to surrender anything they have which belongs to the company.

Why will a company do that? Because they know a person cannot be loyal to two companies at once and if they have already accepted a position with another company their loyalty has changed.

That is what Jesus is talking about in this passage. As citizens in this world system all that we do is to propagate the system. We are committed to our natural life in every sense of the word. All of our efforts are geared toward ourselves, our family, and our ambitions.

When we come to Christ and surrender to his lordship we surrender our citizenship in this world system. From that point on we are to be wholly committed to his kingdom. That doesn’t mean we sit around all day and mumble spiritual sayings, but it does mean that we no longer live for ourselves – we live for the kingdom of God.

Far too many believers today do not understand that. In fact, many Christian leaders promote the idea that the mark of a person of faith is that they are successful in this world system. It is taught that people of faith should be wealthy and acquiring things is a sign of their faith.

Jesus was teaching that if our hope was in achieving what this world calls success then we are at odds with his kingdom. In the kingdom of God success is not achieved through acquiring but through giving. Jesus was our example of serving in the kingdom – are we willing to follow him in a life of surrender in the kingdom and serving as he served?

  Principle:  We can only be loyal to master at a time.

 Affirmation:  I have pledged my allegiance to Christ and his kingdom.

 Prayer:  Lord, the world can be very attractive. My natural tendency is to reach for things of the world, help me to aspire to serving you in the kingdom you brought to earth. In Jesus name, amen.

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Paul ”Hope Preacher” Smith

Messages of inspiration for the journey of faith

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