“Give ’em Heaven Today Cuz’n!”

“Give ‘em Heaven Today Cuz’n!”

This was the text message I received one Sunday morning in December of 2020. My cousin Mike had a stroke a year earlier and he almost died, but God was not through with him here on earth. He recovered, but struggled with his speech and thought process. He turned his life over to Christ because of it all and is now following all of our church services through live stream. It was Mike that God used to share Christ with me some 40 years earlier. I am forever thankful for he and his family.

I was getting ready for church and around 8AM I looked at my phone and I read “Give ‘em heaven today cuzn”. I thought to myself he knows exactly what the people need. This is what God wants the preacher to dish out every time he preaches, a little bit of heaven.

The struggles with the flesh, the world and the devil can only be remedied with a little bit of heaven.

Every Christian ought to have the desire to give ‘em heaven today. Whether it is spending time with your family or friends, are we giving them heaven?

We can’t give what we don’t have! We need to fill up on heaven if we are going to dish out heaven.

“The husbandmen that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.” – II Timothy 2:6

Every time we share the truth of God’s word with the love of God’s Spirit, we give ‘em a little bit of heaven.

The lost man needs heaven! The broken hearted needs heaven! The guilty, cast down soul needs heaven! There is enough heaven to meet the needs of all of humanity! Are you a dispenser of heaven?

When Christ was born in Bethlehem, God was giving heaven to needy man!



The Unexpected Cross Part II

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The Unexpected Cross Part II

“And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus,

to bear his cross.” Mark 15:21

 

Simon did not have this on his schedule that day! Here he is, leaving Jerusalem, with his two boys and probably stops to watch the spectacle in the street. Jesus had already been brutally beaten and scourged. He had lost much blood and, humanly speaking, had to feel extremely weak. He was physically struggling to carry his cross, but we never see him abandon it.

Jesus must have fallen and the Roman guards realized, if he was going to make it up Golgotha, he would need help. So, they grabbed the first healthy man they saw and compelled him to help. The cross of Christ has now become Simon’s cross and he did not even volunteer.

There are some very pointed lessons for us in this narrative;

First, cross bearing is rarely a thing we schedule. Even those Christians who know living the Christian life requires a cross to bear have a tough time accepting it when it comes. If it were easy it would not be a cross. The cross means extra weight and often includes grief and sorrow, as did with the cross Simon had to carry.

An unexpected cross can come in many forms such as; Divorce, financial loss, terminal cancer, or the death of a loved one, etc.

Maybe you have experienced something like this and you are still wondering what happened? Keep reading.

Second, an unexpected cross always pulls you out of your comfort zone. It pulls you out of the crowd, so to speak, as it did Simon. It is important to note that no one grows spiritually without getting out of their comfort zone. An unexpected cross is a time for you to grow. God never places more upon us than what we can handle. Especially if we will trust Him through it.

Third, an unexpected cross is not carried alone. Simon would help Jesus carry this cross. But the reality is, when we face unexpected crosses, it is Jesus helping us. He promised to never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Can you imagine Simon is now helping Jesus, but the day would come when he realized it was Jesus who helped him?

Fourth, it is not if will you ever carry an unexpected cross, but how you carry it that matters most. I have seen some people get bitter and others get better! As Christians, it is a time when Christ should be most manifest in our lives because of closeness to him during the trial. Simon was a father of two boys. We don’t know why God would mention that unless they happened to be watching their dad carry that old cross with Jesus. It is significant that there is another man by the name of Rufus in the Bible. He is mentioned years later in Romans 16:13. Maybe he was won to Christ because of his dad’s experience. If so, it would not be the last time that sort of thing happened.



The Story of Your Life

The Story of Your Life

“…We spend our years as a tale that is told.” Psalms 90:9

Every story is important to God. He gave you life and a free will; it’s up to you to write the story. As long as you are breathing, your story is being written. I am not sure if we will all get to read each other’s story in heaven, but the last chapter of your story is not complete. It may be that today is the day you write a new chapter, a winning chapter, a chapter with a turning point in your life.

I just finished reading “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens. It had been on my bucket list. The first one hundred pages were difficult and I read them slowly, but when I got into the story line of the main characters, it got my attention and I could hardly put it down. A man by the name of Sydney Carton was a man with bad character through the first three quarters of the book and yet he became the unlikely hero.

He switched places with a man (Charles Darnay) who was sentenced to death during the French revolution. Charles Darnay had a wife and baby and was innocent. I thought he was going to die but then Sydney Carton was reminded of a scripture, “I am the Resurrection and the Life…” This scripture kept coming back to his mind. He knew he could help Charles and was willing to take his place. Sounded a lot like what Christ did for me. I think Mr. Dickens knew his Bible.

The fact is, Sydney Carton, for most of the book was a shady character but his last chapter is what he will be remembered for. May God help us to constantly be growing for Christ. No matter how often you have failed, no matter what you think about yourself, God has not given up on you.

“For a just man falleth seven times and riseth up again.” Proverbs 24:16

I love the final chapter of Job. He has experienced such great heartache and physical pain, yet through it all, God had not forsaken him. After all his grief, he seems to start over and the scripture says,

“After this Job lived… “(Job 42:16) I know it is in reference to the years he lived after his great trial but there is something about a man who chooses to LIVE even when he must start over!

It reminds me of a line in Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If”.    

“If you can bare to hear the truth you’ve spoken,

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

If you can watch the things you gave your life to broken

And stoop and build them up with worn out tools”

Don’t give up! Make your life worth reading for Jesus! Ask his Holy Spirit to live through you, the life He wants to live and you will not regret it!

Everyone likes a good story!



God Gets Angry!

God Gets Angry!

“Thou, even thou, art to be feared: and who may stand in thy sight when once thou art angry?” Psalms 76:7

A little boy was playing with his older brother’s Lego city and destroyed it. The older brother came home and was livid, so he told his mother. Mom went in and asked little Tommy, “Why did you do it?” Little Tommy said, “Superman got angry!”

It is important for us to know that God can get angry! His word is very clear about that fact. Lamentations chapter two is very specific about what happens when He gets angry. The scriptures give a history of God getting angry. Yet God has never apologized for being angry and never has to!

If you were to ask, “Why did God allow a flood to destroy the world?” The simple answer is God got angry! Why did Sodom and Gomorrah burn to the ground? God got angry! Why did God call for the extermination of everyone in Canaan land when Israel invaded the land? God was angry! (Genesis 3:15/Leviticus 20:1-20)

Why did God allow Israel to go into captivity? God got angry! Why did He wipe out the nation of Babylon? Go got angry! Why did God allow Jezebel to be eaten by dogs? God got angry!

Why did Jesus make a whip, tip over the tables, and chase the money changers out of the temple? God got angry!

The wonder is that God has not demonstrated His anger more often! Jeremiah said it best, “It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not”. Lamentations 3:22

As Bruce Banner said when he was asked, “How do you make the green monster come out?” He said, “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry!”

Friend, it is obvious that God wants us to know we can make him angry. Don’t confuse God’s patience with his approval!

“God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day!” Psalms 7:11

This ought to move us to a greater reverence of his presence and find out what makes him angry and avoid it!

“Kiss the Son lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little…” Psalms 2:12

It’s a wonder that our omniscient God is as patient as he is with us! If we knew what he knew and had the power he had without the restraint he has, we would have cleaned house a long time ago! He is love and it is his love that provides the restraint but when he gets angry it is always right on time!



Thou Wilt Keep Him in Perfect Peace…

Thou Wilt Keep Him in Perfect Peace…

Isaiah 26:3

In a time of civil unrest, we can find ourselves feeling a little overwhelmed. Even Christians, and it is Christians that I am writing to. I had a friend, who is a retired police officer and is also a Christian, tell me he just has not been able to experience the peace of God with all that is going on in our country. I appreciate his willingness to be candid with me. I did not want to make him feel bad about his emotions, but it prompted me to think of this passage from Isaiah.

God’s word is filled with so many wonderful promises, and he wants us to experience them, as well as believe them. I sent this verse to him, and told him I may preach on it soon.

Consider what the verse says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace…” It is God who helps to keep us in perfect peace, not us. We do not have the ability to give ourselves peace when we naturally feel overwhelmed. God must do it, and God is able to do so. The question is, do I believe that?

What is perfect peace? It is complete peace. The Hebrew word is Shalom. It refers to tranquility. The perfect part of it refers to it keeping us, mind, body, and soul, in perfect peace. Now that is a promise! Praise the Lord for that kind of promise! It is only in times of great distress that we really appreciate that kind of peace!

My friend said he struggled with this, and I want to help him and anyone else who could use some of this perfect peace.

There is more to the promise, and I intentionally left off the last half of the verse until now. The last half of the verse gives us the condition of this peace.

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee…” This means those who rest in the Lord, like you would in an easy chair, are always mindful of its presence but always restful in its presence. It means to lean heavily on, to put your weight on. This is what we are to do with the Lord. We are to put the weight of our burden on him. We are to feel His support and rest in His ability!

It also has the idea of remaining in that position. Some people take their burdens to the Lord in prayer, then take them back when they are finished. If that is the case, don’t say amen! Stay in prayer! Continue in prayer! Philippians 4:6 is the New Testament equivalent of this verse. “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

It takes time in prayer, but you will truly feel the difference as you continue to lean on the Rock of your salvation!



When A Backslider Gets Right

When A Backslider Gets Right!

Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee. Psalms 51:13

This passage is in reference to David getting right with God. His heart wanted to see the lost get saved.

God can use you again if you turn to him. Living among the sinners as a backslider sometimes is like being bait on a fishing line. It is very uncomfortable and I wouldn’t recommend it. It often cost the bait its life or extreme discomfort yet the fishermen catches his fish.

Can you see Elimilech and Naomi backslide and go to Moab to escape a famine? Elimilech and his two boys die but Naomi when Naomi gets right with God she will bring home Ruth! Ruth was quite a catch! All because Naomi got right with God! Ruth didn’t make a decision for the Lord until Naomi got right!

I don’t recommend backsliding to win souls, nothing is guaranteed when your backslidden except chastisement. I am saying that if you are backslidden and under conviction repentance may bring others to God with you!

Can you see Jonah running from the Lord on his way to Tarshish? He pays the fare to sail away only to experience a storm that could kill the whole crew. Jonah finally confesses his sin and takes responsibility and the men on the boat turn to the Lord because he got right!

Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the Lord, and made vows. Jonah 1:16

We had a young lady in my youth group years ago who was not spiritual by any means. She came to church because of her parents and a friend or two. She would come to Sunday school with a new boy each month. She probably met him at some wild party but she brought him to church. Often the boy would make a decision for the Lord and she would dump him later and go get another one. I remember one of her boyfriends who really seemed genuine when he got saved. I could see the conviction on his face even afterward when he knew he wasn’t living right. If she had a heart for God I could see the both of them really doing well together but she eventually dumped him. Looking back it was kind of funny how the Lord could use someone’s foolishness for good. She would pay a price for her sins. It was costly for her to backslide but God made use of the fact that she kept coming back to church.



I Am Doing A Great Work

  I am doing a great work!

And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you? Nehemiah 6:3
Those who were opposed to the rebuilding of the wall of Jerusalem sought to lure Nehemiah out into the plain of Ono to converse. That would have been an Oh no, if he did it! We learn some things from this passage about staying motivated in the work of God.

                              The fact that Nehemiah thought the rebuilding of the wall was a great work kept him away from the wrong crowd

                              The fact that he thought he was doing a great work kept him going in the right direction.

                              The fact that he thought it was a great work kept him faithful in spite of adversity.
 
Pastors and people quit on the work of God oftentimes because they lose the sense of its greatness! The work that Nehemiah was doing was brick by brick stone by stone. The goal was to remove the reproach of God’s people and bring glory to God.
The temple had been restored but the walls and the city were still in shambles. The work involved removing a lot of rubble. It was dirty work it was not a glamorous job. But when the project was complete it would honour the Lord in a great way! God was with Nehemiah in this endeavor.
No matter how dirty his hands got, no matter how monotonous the work seemed at times it was still a great work! Nehemiah did not lose the sense of its greatness! Have you?
The bus ministry is great work! The nursery is a great work! The Sunday school is great work! The Junior church is great work! The nursing home ministry is a great work! The Mission is a great work! May God help us remember this as we get back to normal! Somebody has to serve in these ministries. They are ministries that glorify God and help in the furtherance of the gospel!
The Christian who is steadfast unmoveable and always abounding in the work of the Lord knows the Lords work is the greatest work! As admirable as the fireman, police officer and EMT are, their work is no greater than the Lord’s work! God’s work rescues souls from hell! God’s work has the touch of eternity on it!
It’s great because of its eternal value, its great because of who it represents, and its great because of how long it will be remembered by God!
All other achievements and worldly accolades will be forgotten in a thousand years but not the work you have done for Christ!
So when you flesh the world and the devil try to sidetrack you, just say, Leave me alone! I am doing a great work!


Working with His Hands

Working with his hands

Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. Ephesians 4:28

What fantastic instruction! This is good for anybody not just those who have a pilfering problem. If you would take some time and read the before and after scriptures you might think this verse is out of place but nothing in God’s Holy Word is out of place.

The scripture in verse .26-27 speaks about anger and how the devil can take advantage of a bad temper. Verse .29 instructs us concerning tongue control and the proper use of our words. There is more to verse .28 than initially meets the eye. Obviously the remedy to greed is to give what you have earned. The passage infers that we should work with the motive to give to those in need. To be a giver is an attribute of a Christian. The chapter concludes by admonishing us to be Forgivers!

Our motive, “to give to him that needeth”, and manual labor, “working with his hands the thing which is good” are aids to tongue control.

When we speak words of vengeance and vindictiveness because of a wound we received we steal from God! Vengence is mine; I will repay saith the Lord – Romans 12:19. To seek vengeance is to steal from God. Yet doing something that is profitable with your hands so as to be a blessing to someone else is a great remedy for temper and tongue control!

Mark it down! The most critical people are the least busy with their hands! They are people with too much time on their hands. They spend their waking hours stewing over a wound, a hurt, or a disappointment and therefore cannot help but to say something corrupt!

Get busy being a blessing to someone and let God take care of those who have hurt you. Who knows you may forget all about it as you share the wealth of your hands with someone in need. It may be the wealth of a pastry! It may be the wealth of a dinner! It may be the wealth of cookies! It may be the wealth of cash! It may be the wealth of a mowed lawn! It may be the wealth of a washed car! Hopefully you know where I am going with this.

Get the hands busy for something good and the heart should follow!



A Worthy Man!

A Worthy Man!

And Solomon said, If he will shew himself a worthy man, there shall not an hair of him fall to the earth: but if wickedness shall be found in him he shall die. 1 Kings 1:52

These were strong and authoritative words from the king. Solomon meant business when he said these words to Adonijah. Adonijah had tried to undermine his father, and God’s will for the kingdom. He would have had no problem executing vengeance on Solomon after David, his father, died. But it was too late! God overruled and King David threw his support toward Solomon, and thus, the next king of Israel was established.

After David died, Adonijah fled to the house of God and grabbed hold of the horns of the altar seeking mercy from Solomon. It is at this point Solomon gives Adonijah the condition of mercy and warning. If thou shew thyself a worthy man was the condition.

Let’s consider Adonijah’s error; He was self-willed and presumptuous before God and man. He thought to make himself king rather than seek the will of the Lord. Is that not the sin of most men! They would be king of their lives and refuse the will of God. They live self- centered lives only to self-destruct most of the time. Then the day comes and they are confronted with Jesus the King of kings. They must make a decision. They can accept his mercy and yield to him or they can continue doing their own thing, only to bring more trouble to their lives!

If you are a recipient of the mercy of Jesus Christ, the command for you is: SHEW THYSELF A WORTHY MAN! We are not to take the mercy of Christ lightly but we are to make the most of it for his glory! If you want more mercy and grace, shew thyself a worthy man! Don’t think you will get mercy in the hospital bed if you’re not interested in shewing yourself a worthy man! Don’t think your prayers will be answered if you’re not interested in shewing yourself a worthy man!

Jesus is looking for men who will shew themselves worthy! When Israel faced a Goliath, they found a worthy man! Every time a crisis came, God looked for worthy men to bring deliverance! What our country needs today is Christians that walk worthy of the Lord!

That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God. Colossians 1:10



The Energy of the Chase

The Energy of the Chase

While visiting my daughter and son in law in Florida I had taken a few walks around a local soccer park. It was a large park with about ten soccer fields. On one particular day out, I happened to see a soccer ball that was not in use. There was nobody around so I didn’t think anyone would mind if I gave it a kick. Once I did, I found myself chasing after it like a kid. I kicked that ball around that park at least five times. I found energy I didn’t know I had. I would kick it ten to fifteen yards then kicked it again, constantly running after it not considering I should be winded.

If I were to run the distance without kicking that ball I doubt I would have had the energy but the fact that I was chasing something made all the difference. Most people are motivated by a tangible object that interests them. Whether its money, position, muscle or a relationship if we have something in front of us that is reachable with a little effort, we might find extra motivation. Sometimes it’s just fun to go after it.

When hall of famer Jerry Rice came out of college as a wide receiver, he was known for great hands and average speed for that position. The forty-niners discovered something about Rice that had not been noticed in his work outs. He had an extra boost of speed when chasing a football that made him faster than those who out ran him in the forty-yard dash. He actually ran faster while chasing after a football than while he was being timed in the forty-yard dash. Though his forty-yard dash time was average his run toward the ball and after the catch was exceptionally fast!

Goals that are desirable and tangible are motivating! If you want to excel in life or just improve your present living condition consider setting some goals while you have time to think about life.

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross despised the shame and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God– Hebrews 12:2

The Lord Jesus endured because the joy of accomplishment was greater than the painful experience! We have redemption because he kept his eyes on the goal!



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