Friday, February 28, 2014


Encouragement for your daily walk with God
Have you ever received an eMail from a friend who asked you to consider a new “revelation word” given to him? If you’ve gone to a Bible Conference and signed up to receive periodic communications from the guest speaker, you may have gotten something like it as well.

I got such an eMail the other day. “Rick,” he started out, “I’ve got an exciting word to share with you that Christ, Himself, revealed to me to give to YOU!” I took the time to read it and afterwards, I thought to myself that, even when he talked about our blessed Savior, he was more at the center of the conversation than Jesus was!

It just got me thinking about how important it is that Christ is the center of everything we do—the focal point. In the New Testament, you often find the word “midst” […in your midst…in the midst of you, in the older translations].

The Greek word translated "midst", is mesos [pronounced meh-sauce]. It means, “the middle." It can mean the center in a positional way — the center of the room; or it can mean the center in a focal way — the center of attention.

In a study I’ve been teaching on the book of Revelation and what happens in the eternal kingdom, Jesus is the center of everything—the focal point of heaven. If all heaven is centered on the Lamb of God, how much more should our lives be centered on Him now? Let’s not get distracted with anything in which Christ is not the center. 

And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. Revelation 5:6

Thursday, February 27, 2014

An Undivided Heart

Encouragement for your daily walk with God
Not too long ago I had my annual physical. After a few preliminaries, the first thing the doctor did was to check the condition of my heart. Certainly an important matter! I thought of my check up when I read something by the Chronicler. He reported that 50,000 soldiers from the tribe of Zebulun served in David's army with UNDIVIDED (some translations: "not double-hearted") hearts. [1st Chronicles 12:33] Can you imagine a skilled army with that level of loyalty and devotion?

There is immense power in an undivided heart. I’m sure one reason for this is the singleness of purpose when a heart is undivided. Couples with undivided hearts will preserve their marriages, no matter the difficulties, issues and problems they face. Intercessors with undivided hearts will ultimately break down strongholds. Missionaries with undivided hearts will reach a nation. An undivided heart caused a woman in the New Testament to pour out ointment worth a year's salary on her Savior's head, wash His feet with her tears, and dry them with her hair. An undivided heart is one of the most powerful things on earth.

Today is the day for a “heart check-up.” Is your heart inspired by the supremacy of Christ? If not, make it a point to know Him better. Dig a little deeper in the Word to understand His great love for you. Talk with Him a little more today. He inspires and empowers undivided hearts!

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24

Thursday, February 20, 2014

I’m Gonna Lay Down My Burdens

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

I am amazed when I think about what was accomplished by Christ followers generations ago without our modern conveniences and technologies. Hudson Taylor is a prime example. If you don’t know the name Hudson Taylor, please do yourself a favor and read one of his many biographies available today. He truly is a hero of the Faith. Taylor led a great awakening in China which continues to this day.

In one of the biographies I read concerning him, he came to a point of deep depression because of severe deprivation and other burdens that he carried. One day he was praying for God’s strength to carry on with his mission. When he opened the Bible for his daily study time, he was in the Psalms, and his verse of study was 55:22, "Cast your burden on the LORD, and He shall sustain thee."

He told how the truth of that passage struck his heart like an arrow. He sprang to his feet, and with tears coursing down his cheeks, he cried out, "This fear-allaying truth has evaded me too long! I see it all now. If we are obeying the Lord and still run into difficulty, the heavy responsibility rests with HIM, not with us!" Then he prayed, "Lord, you shall carry all the burden! At your bidding I will go forward, leaving the results with You!"

With newly given strength and the weight of the burden lifted from his shoulders, Hudson Taylor went on to establish a great work in China.

How about it Christ followers, what are YOUR burdens today? Do you know, or have you forgotten that you can give your cares to the Lord? Peter reminded us of that when he said to cast “all your cares [anxieties] on Him, because He cares for you.” [1st Peter 5:7]

Whatever your burden, give it to/cast it upon the Lord — He will carry it — freeing you to serve Him with His peace and power!

Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. Psalms 55:22 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Get Me to the Church on Time!

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

A disgruntled church-goer wrote a letter to the editor of his local newspaper with this complaint: "I've gone to church for thirty years now, and in that time I have heard something like three-thousand sermons. But for the life of me, I can't remember a single one of them. I think I'm wasting my time and the Pastors are wasting theirs by giving sermons at all."

That complaint fostered a rather heated exchange for several weeks until someone sent in this reply:  

"I've been married for thirty years now. In that time my wife has cooked some thirty thousand meals. For the life of me, I cannot recall the entire menu for a single one of those meals. But I do know this … they nourished me, and gave me the strength I needed to do my work.”

How about them apples! A Christ follower knows that he needs nourishment to work for the Lord. I’m not talking about physical nourishment here, but rather, spiritual nourishment. We get much of the nutrition we need from corporate worship, fellowship with other believers, and, yes, from timely sermons from your pastor. 

We mustn’t isolate ourselves. There are no “Lone Ranger” Christians! God wants us to be in consistent fellowship with like minded believers. We need it for exhortation [see Hebrews 10:25]. 

So get to the church on time! Engage in spiritual worship. Exhort one another. And listen to a good sermon. Your soul will be fed, your spirit will catch fire, and you’ll have all the strength you need for God’s work. 

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.  Colossians 3:16 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

It’s Time to Feast

Encouragement for Your Daily Walk with God

Solomon once said, "...a merry heart has a continual feast!" Unfortunately, many Christ followers don’t seem to be feasting these days. They may blame it on politicians, the economy, or any number of things. But the wise sage, Solomon, said it has to do with our hearts!

Maybe it’s that we brood over the things we lack. Maybe we have bought into the myth that if only something good would come our way — like winning the Lottery — we’d truly be happy. Like the guy who told his friend, “Money can’t buy happiness, but if I had a big house, fancy car, and giant flat-screen TV, I wouldn’t mind being unhappy!”

Paul said that he was content both when he had plenty and when he was in need. The scholarly Mathew Henry wrote about discontent and said it is “a sin that is its own punishment and makes men torment themselves; it makes the spirit sad, the body sick, and all the enjoyments sour; it is the heaviness of the heart and the rottenness of the bones." 

Rather than focusing on the things we lack, we should do as the songwriter said and:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace

Let the feasting begin. Fill you soul with His Word. Fill your mouths with His praise. The joy of the Lord is our strength!

All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast. Proverbs 15:15 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Vengeance Is Mine

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

When my kids were younger they watched a movie over and over again. It was listed as an adventure/comedy, and they could quote line after line. The movie? THE PRINCESS BRIDE. 

There was a subplot in the movie concerning one of the characters, Inigo Montoya. He spent his life in seeking revenge on the man who killed his Father. He was asked about his occupation and he said he had to work for Vizzini because “there is not a lot of money in the revenge business.” I know those words aren’t in the Bible, but every Christ follower should take them to heart. The pursuit of revenge steals time and energy away from activities that could provide a much higher return.

What we need to do is truly forgive. It comes from a Greek word that has as its root meaning, to let go, or to send away. In my way of thinking, it is the process by which I give up being offended [let go], and allow the issue to be between God and the offender [send away].

The truth is, I need a tremendous measure of trust in God to let go. When my confidence is in Him, I know the offense against me will not derail God’s good plan for me.

Now, that is easier said than done, right? The concept is not difficult, but delivering on it is. And, by the way, there is a vast difference between forgiveness and trust. I have forgiven many offenses against me, but I do not trust the person. I granted them forgiveness, but they must earn my trust. 

Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the LordRomans 12:19 

Strength and Weakness

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

I have led many groups to Israel and I love to see the expression on people’s faces as they see places where biblical events took place. It’s priceless! I also like to see their surprise when they recognize how different things really are from what they imagined them to be. 

Take Jerusalem for example. Today, it is a bustling, fairly large world-class city. But when David captured Jebus from the Canaanites, it was only about 12-15 acres. 

It was strategically located on a hill with steep slopes, which gave it an advantage during a military threat. It was on this high vantage point that King David built his palace. It’s mentioned many times in Scripture as the Millo — a large retaining wall built by the Canaanites to shore up the summit of Jebus. It was from this steep slope that David derived his military strength. 

But this vantage point also became a weakness for David. The Kidron Valley ran down the East side of Jebus. On the other side of the Valley there was another hill. Flat-topped houses were built on its slopes. You’ve probably already guessed was on one of those rooftops that David secretly watched Bathsheba, and lust began to build in his heart. 

Dear Christ follower, many temptations begin from our privilege — from our position of strength — just as it did with David. And like the steep slopes of Jebus, the City of David, what God gave as an advantage became the place of his downfall. 

Be watchful and walk humbly before God. Be thankful for what God has given you as an advantage. But with all vigor, guard against abusing it for your harm!

Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 1st Corinthians 10:12

Monday, February 3, 2014

Faithful Regardless the Outcome, That’s the Real Issue

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

When I was a kid in Sunday School, one of my favorite stories from the Bible was the account of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. What extraordinary faith! These three men refused to worship just any old god; they would only worship the God of their forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 

Because of their stalwart faith, the wrath of Nebuchadnezzar came to bear. In a violent rage, he threw them into the “fiery furnace.” We can’t possibly know the emotions they experienced on that occasion, but we do know of their resolve—their faith. It’s recorded for us in Scripture. Idolatry was a no brainer for them—they wouldn’t do it. And knowing the price of their decision, they would face their judgment with this in mind; God can deliver us, but He might not!

Isn’t that really the crux of the matter for Christ followers? We know what God can do but, we don’t know what He is going to do. He can deliver us, but He may not.  

With that in mind, here is what I have come to believe: Our obedience, our loyalty under pressure, is the most powerful testimony to the world of our love and faith in almighty God. And just like the Hebrew boys, our faithful Lord is with us in our “fiery trials,” either to deliver us or to take us home. 

In the case of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, it was deliverance. But what impresses me the most is, they didn't make their deliverance an issue with God. How about you, dear Christ follower? Will you serve Him no matter what?

If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up. Daniel 3:17-18; 23-25 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

I Could Use A Little Faith about Now!

Encouragement for your daily walk with God

On several occasions, our Lord said to His disciples, “Oh ye of little faith.” Let’s be honest, He could have been speaking about you and me, right?

I once read in a biography of D.L. Moody that he spent many hours praying for faith. He said, "If all the time I have spent praying for faith was put together, it would be months. I thought that someday faith was going to come down and strike me like lightening. But faith did not come. Then one day I read in the 10th chapter of Romans, "So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God." I now opened my Bible and began to read God's Word and faith has been growing ever since."

“ comes by hearing...the Word of God.” Could it be that our lack of faith has to do with our ‘faith’ having little or nothing to do with biblical faith? For some, faith is based on feelings, or need, or the latest exciting conference, revival, or church service. But if we are to have biblical faith, it must be centered in God’s Word, the Bible; on Jesus and His death and resurrection, His gift of eternal salvation. That’s right, our faith is established and built up as the Living Word, the everlasting love of God is poured into our lives.

So read, hear, and apply the Word! Take it in—daily, consistently. Your faith will grow strong as you do so. 

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17