Friday, October 21, 2016

Old Paths

Thus says the Lord“Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ Jeremiah 6:16
Jeremiah was sent to give a warning to the Nation of Israel. At this time the Word of the Lord was a reproach to them and they would not listen. The false prophets were saying "peace" when there wasn't any. Even the spiritual leaders were committing sin and were not ashamed of it. The people had come to a crossroads and a  needed to make a desicion.
The prophet exhorted them to stand in the way and see. To take a moment and stop what they were doing and look where they were heading. Inspect the fruit that was being produced as a result of the decisions they had made. Then he encouraged them to ask for the old paths.  The old paths that they walked on when they were trusting in the Lord. The old path of obedience. The old paths of worshipping the true and living God. The old paths of reading and meditating in the law of the Lord. If they would return to the old paths they were promised rest for their souls. Tragically they said they would not walk on the old paths. 
Jesus said that there are two paths that a person can walk on. There is a narrow road that leads to life, and a broad road that leads to destruction. Which path are you walking on today? If your on the wrong road it's not too late to take the exit. Choose to walk along the road that Jesus walked on, and you will find rest for your soul once again.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Mighty Men

1 Samuel 22:2 And everyone who was in distress, everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him. So he (David) became captain over them. And there were about four hundred men with him. 

As Saul continued to reign it began to have adverse affects upon the people. Many were distressed over what they were watching take place. News was constantly circulating about a distressing spirit that came over Saul. Stories of spears being thrown were shared. The soldiers in Saul's army had no weapons to fight with.  Some of Saul's decisions may have affected the people's livelihood for many were in debt. Disillusion set in, leading to discontentment, and a departure. There were four hundred men that decided "enough was enough." They felt it was better to go down to a cave in Adullam with David, then to continue in the service of Saul.
There are times when the Lord will allow distressing circumstances to drive us to our greater than David, Jesus Christ. We come to the place where we realize this world has nothing for us. A life of sin is a life of discontentment and distress. Our sin incurs debts we are unable to pay. What are we to do? We run to Jesus. 
These men came to David with nothing to offer him but their lives. We come to Jesus in the same way. They were accepted by David and welcomed.  Jesus said, "whoever comes to me I will in no way cast out." They were also transformed by being with David. This same group of distressed and discontented men, became mighty men of valor. They carried out some of the same brave exploits as David did. By being with David, they became like David. I believe as we are with Jesus, we become more like Jesus. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Sound Doctrine

The Apostle Paul warned Timothy that the time would come when, "men would not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth and be turned aside to fables." 2 Timothy 4:3-4

The word "sound" means opinions free from the mix of error. We are living in a day when many have turned away from "sound" doctrine to opinions that are mixed with error. When you turn away from the truth, and listen to opinions mixed with error you open yourself up to a lie. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. We need discernment from the Holy Spirit. Many are gravitating towards those who will say what they want to hear, rather than what they need to hear. Communicators who can scratch itching ears, instead of bring conviction to a wayward heart. Entertainers who dazzle an audience, instead of shepherds who feed the flock. Well crafted talks without the offense of the cross. A cross-less message is no gospel message. No bibles used, no sin mentioned, no blood of Christ, no power of the Holy Spirit...

What are we to do? We are to do exactly what Paul told Timothy to do.. PREACH THE WORD! 
Preach the Word, be ready in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and teaching. 2 Timothy 4:2 

Convince: is also translated reprove. Which means, a rebuke that results in a persons confession of sin.  The truth is that the word "sin" is not being used very much today. Some feel it is to offensive. The message of the cross is offensive.  

Rebuke: it’s a little different then the previous definition. It means, a rebuke with the suggestion of impending penalty. Telling people the whole truth. Speak the truth in love, but speak the truth. 

Exhort: is begging and pleading with people. It is the added and much needed gentleness to reproof and rebuke. This is to be done with long-suffering and teaching.

Whether you are convincing, rebuking, or encouraging, all is to be carried out with long suffering. Always remember how patient the Lord has been with you when you present His truth. Always recall to mind how long suffering He has been. Let us never be ashamed of the Gospel for it is the power of God unto Salvation. PREACH THE WORD!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

When Arrows Fly Beyond You

1 Samuel 20:37 Jonathen cried out after the lad and said, "Is not the arrow beyond you?" 

King Saul's hatred for David could no longer be hidden. His outward demonstrations were a revelation of his true intentions. In a fit of rage he had thrown a spear at David and missed. Saul offered his daughter as a prize for going into the most dangerous part of the battle hoping that David would die, but instead he was victorious.  He even sent soldiers to murder David in his bed. The Bible says that "Saul saw and knew that the Lord was with David." David came to the realization that he had to go. He had to withdraw from Saul  in order to be safe. 
A plan was formed by David and Jonathen to discern whether David should leave or stay. David would go out and hide in the field for a few days while Jonathen went home to his father. If Saul asked about David, Jonathen would tell him that David had been summoned by his family. Depending on how Saul reacted would determine David's course of action. Once Jonathen knew his fathers intentions he would go out into the field where David was hiding and fire an arrow. If the arrow landed close to David, all was well in the kingdom, but if the arrow was fired further away, that was the signal to flee. 
I have often wondered how David must of felt waiting in the field as his future hung in the balance. Perhaps he  reflected upon his past anointing from the prophet. Maybe he thought about his victory over Goliath. Surely the Lord would not send him out to live like a fugitive after all of that. 
The day finally came when Jonathen shot the arrow, and he cried out, "is not the arrow is beyond you?" At that moment David's whole world was turned upside down. David was not in control of his circumstances. Life seemed so unfair.  David wasn't the one firing the arrow, but in a way, neither was Jonathen. This was all part of the Lord's plan to prepare David for his future. David would learn to trust God in a way that he had never known before. This wasn't going to be easy. The Lord was going to use the next season of David's life to take the Saul out of David. David was now forced to withdraw from the palace, the people, and all things familiar. 
Have you ever had a time in your life when the arrow seemed beyond you? Where you didn't know what was going on? Where like David, you saw things that even your closest friends couldn't see? The Lord gave you insight and discernment, but all you could do with it was go in the direction the Lord led you?  Well take heart, if today the arrow is beyond you, it's not beyond the Lord. He has a plan for you. Trust in Him and He will bring it to pass. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Calvary Chapel East Coast Pastors Conference 2016

Last week along with over eleven hundred men we gathered for the annual Calvary Chapel East Coast Pastors Conference. Before the conference takes place we start praying six months in advance. The conference is held at the Sandy Cove Retreat Center in North East Maryland along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. Our meetings take place in an old gymnasium. It's like a family reunion that you look forward to. Every year I meet up with a handful of guys that I have been friends with for years. Men that I confide in, and trust with my life. Their friendship through the years has been invaluable to me. All of us schedule our flights to arrive  around the same time. We travel together, and room together. The fellowship we share is one of the best things about the conference.  We laugh, we pray, and share what the Lord is doing in our lives.  You also make many new friends as you meet pastors and leaders from around the country. The conference begins on a Monday afternoon and ends on Wednesday afternoon. During our times together we get to listen to amazing Bible teaching. In addition to the teaching we have times of anointed, spirit led worship. In worship there is one guitar two singers and an eleven hundred man choir. As we lift up our voices to the Lord you can sense the work of the Holy Spirit among us. To me, it's a foretaste of heaven. This year was powerful. I think most of us come to the conference desperate to hear from the Lord. We come with an expectation. United we come boldly and humbly before the throne of grace, and the Lord meets us powerfully. Here is a brief overview of what I received. 

Session 1 Jeremy Camp: Most people know Jeremy as a Christian Artist heard on radio stations around the country. Yet knowing Jeremy personally there is a whole lot more to that guy. He is a minister of the gospel. For Jeremy, it's not simply about performing concerts, its about reaching people with the life saving message of the gospel. He recently started a ministry called "Speaking Louder Than Words". They are reaching into some of the remote parts of the world. The ministry helps with practical needs, but most importantly the spiritual needs of the people. 

Session 2 Jim Cymbala: I love this guy. I have read several of his books and have listened to some of his sermons. Jim pastors the Brooklyn Tabernacle in New York. Jim emphasized the importance of the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in our preaching. It is one thing to preach the word, but it is quite another to preach the word in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Session 3 Sandy Adams: Pastor Sandy is from Calvary Chapel Stone Mountain Georgia. Sandy shared one of the best messages I have ever heard on the life and ministry of Samson. He highlighted the anointing Samson had at the beginning of his ministry,  and the decline and removal from ministry due to his sin. Samson was a "he-man with a she-problem" and it cost him his life.

Session 4 Q&A: The Q&A was a time where leaders among the Calvary Chapels answered some important questions that have come up in recent days. Some of the issues they dealt with were "Women in Ministry, and Pastors and Alcohol." It was a blessing to be able to have insight and clarity on these subjects. I believe it also put all of us on the same page in relation to these things.

Session 5 Tony Clark: Tony is a personal friend and also a great pastor. He did an excellent job teaching out of Revelation 2 looking at the church in Ephesus. Drifting from our first love is a real danger. It's important to stay close to Jesus. Tony also exhorted us to stay away from anything that would take us away from close fellowship with the Lord.

Session 6 Louis Neely: Pastor Louis has been in ministry a long time. He has a wealth of knowledge. He encouraged all the pastors to continue to trust in God and live by faith. To get in the spiritual battle and take it to the enemy. (The worship time following Louis's study was off the chart powerful. The Lord met us that night in such a special way that words are inadequate to describe what took place.)

Session 6 Don McClure:  The work of the Holy Spirit is so essential to everything we do in ministry without it we are powerless. Don gave a good word on the importance of that truth. You left that study wanting more of what he described.

Session 7 Raul Ries: In so many places the church has been affected by the world. Many Christians are no longer walking in the fear of the Lord. They live as they have always lived. Raul took us to the book of 1 Thessalonians teaching about walking in the fear of the Lord. It was powerful and practical.

Ending: Me and my friends were able to go back and attend the evening service at Calvary Chapel Philadelphia where Raul Ries taught for Pastor Joe. The worship was amazing and the fellowship a blessing. We all flew out the next morning back to our churches to apply what we have learned.

If you missed this years conference you missed it... but GREAT NEWS, all of the sessions from the conference can be watched by downloading the CC Philly App. 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Behaving Wisely

1 Samuel 18:5 So David went out wherever Saul sent him, and behaved wisely 
1 Samuel 18:14 And David behaved wisely in all his ways and the Lord was with him. 
1 Samuel 18:15 Saul saw that David behaved very wisely
1 Samuel 18:30 David behaved more wisely than all the servants of Saul.

Following his victory over Goliath, David was given the great privilege of being King Saul's armor bearer and the head of the men of war. This promotion was something that David took very seriously. Four times within the chapter it says he "behaved wisely". Regardless of what task he was given David carried himself in a manner that honored the Lord. The chapter also records the results of his behavior. In verse five it says "David was accepted in the eyes of the people and Saul's servants." One thing I love about David is he didn't try to be something he wasn't. He did his job as unto the Lord and he was accepted. One of the greatest blessings bestowed on David is found in verse 14 when it says, "The Lord was with him." David had the daily assurance of God's presence. Knowing God is with you wherever you go makes all the difference in the world. David continued to grow as an armor bearer and a leader among God's people. I wish that David's behavior resulted only in positive feedback, however that was not the case.  Not everyone was pleased with him. King Saul's heart began to grow bitter toward David. The people were singing songs about David having more victories than Saul.  Filled with envy, Saul picked up his spear and tried to pin David to the wall. He also incited his servants to ensnare David. The Bible says that Saul was motivated by fear and became David's enemy continually. Nevertheless David continued to behave wisely. 
There may come a time when you are in a circumstance where you can choose to behave wisely or react harshly. You can wait patiently or get even immediately. It's always best to let the Lord fight your battles. Remember that the Lord is with you. Continue to live your life on the job, at school, at home, or at your church; that pleases God. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Prepared to Fight

Moreover David said, "The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine." And Saul said to David, "Go, and the Lord be with you." 1 Samuel 17:37

David was sent by his father to the battlefield where his three older brothers were stationed. When he arrived at the Valley of Elah he was surprised to find that Israel and the opposing army of the Philistines were at a stand still. Suddenly a giant named Goliath came into the valley and began to blaspheme God and challenge Saul to send a man to fight him in a winner take all contest. David began to inquire why no one would go and face this man. Why were God's people cowering in fear? David's older brother began to criticize David's concern. He accused him of being arrogant and having ulterior motives. Yet David's heart was for God's people. He was a shepherd who cared for the flock. David turned from his brother and refused to listen to his words. King Saul heard about the discussions going on in the camp and he called David for an interview. David began to tell the king of his victories while caring for his fathers sheep. Although David had not been on the battlefield he had killed both a lion and a bear. The lion and the bear prepared David to face the giant. In David's mind the Philistine was nothing more than a wild beast seeking to destroy God's flock. The Lord didn't need a soldier to fight this battle, He wanted a shepherd. David was so confident in what the Lord was going to do that he said, "He WILL deliver me."
The battles we face today are often preparation for the battles ahead. God uses the current circumstances to prepare us for what He has in the future. The prophet Jeremiah had to run with the footmen in order to prepare for the horses. Moses had to dwell in the desert shepherding a flock of sheep so that he could lead God's flock through that same wilderness. Fight the battles of today with courage and trust in God, and you will be ready for the battle ahead.