1 TIMOTHY 3:16-17

"All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us...God uses it to prepare and equip His people to do every good work."

Sunday, October 31, 2010

HABAKKUK - God is Still On His Throne!

Today is October 31st – Halloween.

And Halloween reminds me of the word FEAR.

Have you ever just been terrified out of your mind?

Then I’m sure you have something in common with Habakkuk.

Habakkuk lived under the threat of the Babylonians. Babylon was becoming the dominant world power, and Judah would soon feel Babylon’s destructive force. The LORD had promised to use the Babylonians to punish Judah for their rebellion.

I’m sure Habakkuk was afraid.

He asked questions – difficult questions – and he diligently sought answers.

He asked God why He would use the wicked Babylonians to punish His people. He asked why the wicked in Judah were not being punished for their sins. He asked why a just God could allow such evil to exist.

He asked the questions we ask…

God responded to Habakkuk.

And Habakkuk praised God. He knew that God was going to discipline the people of Judah and that it wasn’t going to be pretty! But Habakkuk acknowledged God's Sovereign Control, yielded to His Divine Providence, accepted His Perfect Will, and asked for His Help and Mercy.

Today’s “Bible Pick ‘Ems” comes from the very end of Habakkuk’s prayer to God.

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
and the cattle barns are empty,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD!
I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
The Sovereign LORD is my strength!
He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
able to tread upon the heights.”

(Habakkuk 3:17-19)

Habakkuk affirmed that even in times of fear, he would still rejoice in the Lord. He didn’t let his feelings be controlled by the events around him. He trusted God’s ability to give him strength.

He let his "even though" turn into "yet I will..."

When nothing makes sense, and you’re AFRAID, remember God.

Look to Him, only Him –

He is alive and in control of the world. He is working, and He WILL accomplish His purposes.

So, run like surefooted deer, my friends – across rough and dangerous terrain.


“I have heard all about you, LORD. I am filled with awe by your amazing works.” (Habakkuk 3:2)

When in doubt, search God out!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

1 TIMOTHY - Clear Conscience

I remember summers when I was growing up –

Swimming, bodysurfing, reading, playing the radio, and…

…getting a tan!

Yup, not “politically correct” to say that, in these days of SPF 50 and skin cancer scares.

But, it’s true – I was a real “sun worshiper!”

That first day in the sun usually meant a sunburn – ouch! Bring out the Noxema cream or SeaBreeze – the only two things that seemed to take out the sting!

Did that keep me from going out in the sun the next day? NOPE!

And before I knew it, that sunburn didn’t hurt so much. As my skin got tougher, it didn’t notice the effects of the sun. I could sit in the sun for longer and longer periods of time – without the burn. I got USED to it.

Unfortunately, it can be the same way with our conscience.

Today’s “Bible Pick ‘Ems” speaks to this:

“Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked.” (1 Timothy 1:19)

I’ve learned this lesson the hard way a few times in my life, I’m sorry to say.

At first, doing something wrong really makes you feel bad. Guilt tears at your heart, and you feel remorse. Like that first day of sunburn. It hurts…

But, if you choose to IGNORE that feeling, (if you go out in the sun again, so to speak) – your conscience begins to harden. Just a little bit. And before you know it, your conscience doesn’t feel the sting of your sin as much. Then it doesn’t feel it at all.

Each time we deliberately ignore our conscience, we are hardening our hearts. Over time, we will lose our capacity to tell right from wrong. We will choose to do the sinful thing intentionally, and we will not feel bad…

But Paul reminds us of a terrible truth – if we do this, we will shipwreck our faith.

Paul knew something about shipwrecks. He experienced them more than once.

When I think of shipwrecks, I think of the Titanic. A huge, beautiful, unsinkable ship. And yet, a glancing blow off an iceberg sank it. Something that seemed small and inconsequential, started an inevitable chain of events that led to disaster.

There are no such things as “small” sins. The “little ones” are the dangerous ones. I am reminded of this phrase from Scripture – “the little foxes that ruin the vineyards.” We must be on guard – we must CLING to our faith like a life preserver – because IT IS a life preserver, in every sense of the word.

How can you keep your conscience clear?

Treasure your faith in Christ more than anything else. Do what is right.

As you walk with God, He will speak to you through your conscience. He will give you His wisdom – He will show you what is right and wrong.

Act on those inner tugs…

Stay out of the "sun" – and remain in the SON!!

"When in doubt, search God out!"

Sunday, October 17, 2010

1 JOHN - Our Advocate

The judge peered down at me.

“Do you have anything to say in your defense?”

What could I say? I was guilty of every sin that had been brought against me.

My Adversary was good…very good.

He had used witnesses against me…He had used Scripture against me. And he had used truth – I couldn’t deny one word of his accusations. I was guilty…

“No, Your Honor. The defense rests.”

“Then I suggest you begin your closing arguments.”

I had no closing arguments. How can you argue, when you know you’re guilty of every wrongdoing, every errant act, every thoughtless word – I had SINNED!

I was about to stand up and plead guilty, when a note was passed to me. It read: “Someone is here to speak for you.”

I turned and looked into the softest eyes of the strongest face I have ever seen.

And He began to speak for me.

He used His own witness…He used Scripture. And He used truth. He finished with a simple, yet profound, statement:

“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

“Agreed,” said the judge, as he pounded his gavel. “Not guilty.”

I thought of this little courtroom drama when I read this week’s “Bible Pick ‘Ems.” It comes from the book of I John:

“My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous.” (1 John 2:1)

John offers reassurance to us when we’re feeling guilty and condemned. We know we have sinned. And Satan wastes no time in pointing fingers at us.

“For the accuser of our brothers and sisters…[is] the one who accuses them before our God day and night. (Revelation 12:10)

He is good…very good.

But don’t give up hope!!

We have the best defense attorney in the universe!

And He is pleading our case!

Jesus is our Advocate, our Defender – and He speaks His truth. He has already suffered the penalty in our place. We can’t be tried for a case that no longer exists.

“Who then will condemn us? No one – for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.” (Romans 8:34)

“He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.” (Hebrews 7:25)

So, don’t be afraid to ask Jesus to plead your case – He has already won it!!

"When in doubt, search God out!"

Sunday, October 10, 2010

1 CORINTHIANS - Do Not Judge

I wonder why “reality shows” have become so popular?

I’m sure there are many reasons – but I think, at least in part, it’s because we enjoy watching other people behave badly.

We humans love to compare ourselves with others. We love to feel like we’re “better” than someone else. Sometimes, I think we take a perverse pleasure in other people’s failures.

We measure our worth by the yardstick of someone else’s behavior – and we secretly applaud when they “come up short.”

We are a judgmental bunch…

Today’s “Bible Pick ‘Ems” serves as a warning – to be careful what we think of others.

“As for me, it matters very little how I might be evaluated by you or by any human authority. I don’t even trust my own judgment on this point. My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove that I’m right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide. So don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time – before the Lord returns. For he will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due.”
(1 Corinthians 4:3-5)


Paul is speaking to the church at Corinth. He is urging them to think of him, Peter, and Apollos as mere servants of Christ. Paul understood one of the great “reversals” of the Kingdom of God – to be the greatest, you have to be the least.

“But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.” (Matthew 19:30)

“For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11)

It is tempting to judge people, especially fellow Christians. Unfortunately, it’s rather easy to evaluate whether or not they are “good” followers of Christ. It’s what we do to make ourselves feel or look better. But that is arrogance, pride. Only God knows a person’s heart – including our own – and He is the only One with the right to judge.

Paul left the judging up to God. He compared himself only with Jesus. He realized his sinfulness, and he understood his limitations. He was grateful to be a servant of the Most High, and did not waste time comparing himself to the standards of man.

Jesus was his yardstick…

We must do what God tells us to do in the Bible and through the Holy Spirit.

He will judge our hearts, and He will reward His servants.

“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you…why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?” (Luke 6:37, 41)

"When in doubt, search God out!"

Sunday, October 3, 2010

JEREMIAH - You Will Be Saved!

Ever get tired of watching the news?

The world is not a place of “good news” anymore, is it? It’s often a frightening place.

Today’s “Bible Pick ‘Ems” sounds like it could have come “fresh off the presses” just in time for this morning’s Sunday edition:

“This is what the LORD says: ‘I hear cries of fear; there is terror and no peace…In all history there has never been such a time of terror. It will be a time of trouble for my people…Yet in the end they will be saved!’” (Jeremiah 30:5, 7)

Jeremiah was one of God’s great prophets.

Jeremiah was known as the “weeping prophet” because he was often moved to tears over the rebellion of God’s people.

He was called by God to speak to the southern kingdom of Judah. He faithfully confronted the nation’s leaders and the Israelite people with their sin. He prophesied both their 70-year captivity in Babylon, and their eventual return from exile.

His message doesn’t sound too different than what we hear today!

It is a time of fear and terror.

Economies are collapsing, weird illnesses and unusual diseases are appearing, people are starving, and nations are warring. In the post 9/11 world, “terror” has taken on a new meaning. It could be rightly said that “in all history there has never been such a time of terror.” (verse 7)

Where should we turn? To whom should we go?

Go to God…

He is our Leader.

God returned His chosen people to their land. He brought them out of exile, and graced them with His blessings. He never forgot them…

It is the same today as it was in Jeremiah’s time.

God knows the future, and His plans for us are good and full of hope. We need to trust Him with our agenda, and with the timetable of the world. We need to know that He goes with us as we move forward in this life. His purpose, His mission, WILL be accomplished.

We can have boundless hope.

“Yet in the end they will be saved!” (verse 7)

This does not mean that we will be spared pain, suffering, or hardship. But God will see us through to a glorious conclusion.

Just like He promised the Israelites – we will return to our “Promised Land” – to eternal life in God’s presence – we will finally return HOME.

“This is what the LORD says: ‘…then I will come and do for you ALL the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. For I know the plans I have for you…They are plans for good…to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:10-11)

“When in doubt, search God out!”