Tag Archives: Witness

A Merciful and Faithful High Priest

Hebrews 2:16-18

16 For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.

17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.

18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.

Jesus could have come to earth any way He chose.  He could have had a kingly birth and sat on a throne ruling over the people of this world, or just of Israel.  There could have been international coverage on the news of the royal birth, a new era in the kingdoms of this world.  There would be a golden crib for him to sleep in, and covers of the softest fabric, woven especially for him.  Lavish gifts could have been offered.

Or he could have come as a sharp and shrew business man, taking the corporate world by storm with his unwavering commitment to excellence and profit.   He could have had the fastest rising stock on the NYSE.  His sharp business man would have brought many to him to seek wisdom for their own business.  He would have sat on many corporate boards due to his decision-making prowess.

Or he could have come as a dynamic motivational speaker, wowing crowds as he told them how to succeed in business and in life.  He would have wisdom and dynamic stories to tell them of the3 ways in which they could thrive in life, love, business, and pleasure.  He could have elevated even the meekest person, or the one who had no drive at all to do spectacular things.  All who listened to him would have been blessed.

But He chose none of these ways.  Instead, he came to be born in a stable with a bunch of smelly animals and the stench they leave behind.  He made himself equal to us, lower than the angels, although the angels worshipped Him in heaven.  He came in a place that was crowded and insignificant because they had no place to put him in any of the inns in town.  He came in obscurity, for none to see except some lowly shepherds who had been told to come by those same angels that worshipped Him in heaven.  They could not just stand by and let Him come with no one knowing, So, they came and heralded their song to shepherds in the field, not kings, or business men, or motivational people.  Lowly shepherds.  Jesus came like we would have back then.  Nothing special except to a few.

In doing so, he showed Himself meek and lowly.  He did not show Himself as the Son of God that he was.  People saw Him continually having mercy on those He came near.  Whether it was by His words or His touch, he was always faithful to show mercy.  There was nothing special about Him except the amazing ministry He had.  I love the epic movie “Jesus of Nazareth”.  In it, Jesus is shown as one whose eyes could look right  

Through a person, almost as if He could see their thoughts and heart.  I imagine when he was on this earth, those eyes were real!  He did not call Himself a priest, or a king, or a ruler.  Simply the Son of God, simply the Son of Man.  He was both at the same time.

But in reality, He was a high priest.  The highest of all priests, The high priest was the one who took the blood into the Holy of Holies on the day or Redemption to make atonement for all the people – all of them.  The blood of a perfect lamb, without spot of blemish.  He came to offer His own blood, perfect and without blemish, for the sins of all the people.  All the people for the rest of time.  Me, you, your neighbor, your friends, your enemies, your co-workers. All the people.  He faced the temptations of life, but he never gave in.  He was the spotless Lamb of God! Yet He came as a man.

And because He came as a man, He faced the same temptations we all face.  He faced the adulterous woman.  He faced the angry crowds.  He faced false accusations and rumors about who He really was.  The devil himself came and tempted Him in the wilderness to follow the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life.  Everything I have been tempted with he was tempted with.  The difference is, He never gave in, or gave up.  He stayed pure so he could be the required sinless sacrifice for sin.  He also can now identify with what we go through and help us get through it ourselves.

Have you ever noticed that the best people to seek counsel from are those who have been through the same thing you are going through?  The person who has had an abortion and now knows the downside is the best one to help a person avoid the pitfalls that come with that experience.  The person who has recovered from an addiction, whether it be drugs, or alcohol, or pornography, is the best one to seek counsel from if you are battling the same demons.  The person who is successful is the best person to seek guidance from for success in life.  No matter what arena you talk about, you can learn more from someone who has been there then from someone who has not.

What have you been through?  What areas of life can you help someone cope with?  Are you reaching out in those areas and making a difference whenever you can?  Personally, I have been through cancer.  My long battle was successful.  Now I am writing a book about that (it’s a slow process).  I have been through addiction counseling and I can now help people to see a way out.  I have had a successful marriage and can help people walk through the dark valleys that come our way, as I have with my wife.  Those things I have been through make me a valuable person for others to talk to. Ask God where you can be a light shining in the darkness for someone else.  Ask Him to bring people your way so you may shine that light of yours into their life and make them brighter!  We are here for each other, not for ourselves.  Make a difference today!

Justified by Grace

 

Titus 3:5-7 

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;

That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

To get where we are going today, we have to revisit the last verse we discussed yesterday.  This key verse is another example of Paul’s true belief that there is nothing we can do that saves us, but only by His mercy can we come to a place of true fellowship with God.  There are a lot of pretenders out there.  There are still hundreds, and probably thousands, of preachers who subvert the gospel by tying works to salvation.  They say you must tithe to be saved, you must be baptized to be saved, you must do good works to be saved, etc., etc., etc.  While all of these things are good and all should be the result of our walk with God, none of them bring us salvation.  None of them bring that regeneration into our lives that make us a new creation.  It is only by His blood, shed on the cross, combined with our faith, which was given to us by grace (Eph 2:8-9), that we are saved.  We must ask for it.  That is our only duty.  We must ask forgiveness, turn from our sin, and allow His Holy Spirit to take control.  This is not an act of our flesh, but of our inner man crying out for His love, which was so gloriously displayed on that cross.  We must choose eternal life or face eternal death. 

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Once we have been saved, works of righteousness should follow.  Perhaps not right away but soon thereafter.  Paul says we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12-13).  I have always maintained that after the inner salvation that comes from accepting His sacrifice on the cross as a substitute for my sin, this inner salvation must work it’s way out to my flesh.  I may not stop drinking, or smoking, or being gay, or cursing, or lusting right away.  But over time the good works of righteousness will become stronger in the than these works of the flesh.  Good works should be the result of my salivation, and this salvation slowly envelopes my flesh as I begin to learn of His word and His ways, as His light is shed on my path.  And all of us who are mature in the faith must be careful not to push these young ones too quickly.  We can offend them easily, and Jesus told us that if we offend these little ones, it would be better if we had a millstone tied around our necks and we were thrown into the sea (Matthew 18:6).  Our job is to encourage them toward good works, but not judge them as they slowly grow.  In time, as they take more delight in the Lord, the desires of their heart will change (Psalm 37:4).

Each one of us knows the struggle of overcoming this flesh.  Our flesh wants to keep us in our sin and former state.  It does not want to let go of control over our lives. The desires of our heart will always go toward the flesh if we are not engaging with God on a regular basis through reading reh word, worship and prayer.  In other words, we must put Him first.  He must have a central place in our daily routine or we will be much more likely to follow after the flesh.  I know this all too well.  I want to do all that I can to avoid this trap of the flesh in the future.  I must pray, I must worship and I must be in his word to stay out of my fleshly ways.  I cannot defeat the enemy of my life if I have not allowed Jesus to defeat the enemy within.  I also need encouragement from my fellow believers.  This comes through fellowship, especially in a local church.  Hebrews 10:26 tells us we should no forsake assembling together, The reason we should not forsake this is that we need other to keep us on the right path.  There is a lot of deception in the world and in the church today and this fellowship we have will keep us on the straight and narrow way.  I pray that each of you are involved in a local body of believers.

The cross justifies us.  That word justifies means just as if I had never sinned.  Because of His sacrifice, we can stand before God and not face a guilty sentence, He is our mediator (1 Tim 2:5).  He is the one who relates to God that we are free from sin because we have believed in Him.  There is no other way that we can be justified but by His grace.  A great acronym for grace is God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.  The richness of Hs salvation of His justification, of His purification, of His regeneration only comes because he shows us grace.  He gives these things to us freely because we love His Son, His only Son.  And when we have made this decision to love the Son, we become heirs to the promises that are contained in the Bible   I am not even going to try and tell you all these promises, but there are literally thousands of them just waiting for the one who will say yes to Jesus.  These promises cover every area of our life, from mental to physical to financial to spiritual.  He has a promise just waiting for you to some and ask. They are all in His word, waiting for you to find them.  Have you found the promise you need today?  Have you gone to God and asked Him to keep His promise, and asked with all faith and belief that He will keep that promise?  We are His children. We are heirs to these precious words that were written thousands of years ago.   May each one of us live daily in this grace that is so freely given to us.

What Has God Committed to You

Titus 1:1-4

Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness;

In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;

But hath in due times manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour;

To Titus, mine own son after the common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.

Have you ever heard someone say “I’m not sure what God’s will is for my life?”  I have, plenty of times.  I have even said this about myself on occasion.   In my case, I thought God would make it real clear what he wanted me to do, and I would have aa sense of knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt this was God’s plan and God’s direction. I figured someone would come along with a word of knowledge or a prophesy telling me this was God’s plan.  I feel this way because this did happen once in my life.  I received a powerful prophecy and it came into reality just a few months later.  I may have shared this story here before, but it fits well here so I will share it again.

In the spring of 2008, my pride rose up to the point that I did something’s that were completely against my company policy, against Godly wisdom and against everything I said I believed in.  I felt I was above the policies and procedures I had written for my company.  I was a sales manager, after all, and I brought in a lot of business to the company.  Surely looking at some porn on company computers would just get me a hand slap if anyone found out.  Even if I printed some pictures that were borderline illegal; I would not be punished.  And how would they ever find out?  I was very careful.

But they did find out, and I was quickly and unceremonially released from my position and asked to clean out my desk and leave the property.  I was distraught.  Next, I had to tell my wife.  She was angry.  Then to tell my Pastor.  He was upset.  I had been caught doing things before and he slowly had worked me back into his trust.  Now I had betrayed him again.  He found out about Pure Life Ministries and said I needed to go there or never set foot in his church again.  I went, and it was a life changing experience.  Upon leaving, in December of 2008 my counselor there said wait two years before doing any kind of ministry.  I had been a worship leader, deacon, lay minister and deacon in my church.  While I was there, my wife started attending a different church, one we had been involved with before.  So, I went there and sat, and sat and sat. I told the Pastor it was my wife who would make the decision when I would be available for ministry.  She could tell what level my pride was reaching. For a year and half I sat.

In the summer of 2010, we went to a camp meeting that we had attended ever since we met.  We had a lot of friends there and helped in the kitchen.  One morning one of the ministers came in and asked the camp director if he could start doing a Sunday morning service.  They were both friends of ours, and when the director said yes, I piped up and asked if he wanted some worship before the teaching.  He said that would be great, so I looked over at my wife and asked her what she thought.  She would play the piano, and she gave her approval.  So we led worship that first morning, the first time I had ministered at all in over a year and a half.  That night in the service, during a time of worship, that same minister came back to me with a word or prophecy.  He looked right at me and said that God was going to do something brand new in my life.  It would come from nowhere, and would overtake my life so much that I would know it was from God.  He said it would be a brand new work, unlike anything God had ever done before in my life.  I was in tears and just praising the Lord for this, having no idea what God would do.

When we got home from the services, my wife told our Pastor that she thought I was ready to help with worship again.  He started to have me work with the worship team in mid-September.  One day, when I was driving between two small towns in rural Iowa, I suddenly heard words in my head, like a poem.  But they were accompanied by a melody.  I had never heard anything like this before so I quickly pulled over to the side of the road and wrote down the words as I heard Him giving them to me in my spirit.  Once I had those written, I recorded the song on my cell phone.  This had never happened to me before.  The next day I went to my pastor and his wife and sang them this song.  They absolutely loved it.  I told them what had happened and asked what I should do next.  My Pastor, in all his wisdom, simply said “Keep Listening.”  I followed his advice and since that time over 2,000 poems, songs and choruses have come from that tiny seed.  This is what God has committed to me.

That is not all, though.  This Bible study, and all those that have come before it, are things God has committed to me.  Leading worship at my church, helping to find a good financial program, leading the men’s group and being a lay minister have all been committed to me.  Being a good husband, father and grandfather, brother and friend have been committed to me.  Being an Aflac agent. a Medicare agent, a cartographer and working in a restaurant have been committed to me.  The list goes on and on.  Whatever God has put into my life to accomplish, he has committed to me.  As such, I should do them all to the glory of God (Colossians 3:17).  All these things deserve my very best. In Paul’s case it was preaching.  Whether that was in person or through his letters, Paul had a profound effect on the course of history, not only where he want, but throughout the world.  You and I have no idea what influence we have or will have down the road.  So let us do all we can to make the most of this life and do whatever we can to the fullest of our ability.  The day of the Lord comes quickly.  Let us help others be ready!

Are You Ready to Be Offered?

2 Timothy 4:6-8

For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

Have you ever had someone ask you this question? “If today was your last day on earth, what would you do differently?”  It’s an intriguing question and I would bet that every one of you have heard it at least once, if not multiple times.  I wonder how you answered that and would love to have you put that answer in the comments once you’re done reading today’s post.

Now you may be asking “How would Pete answer that question?” and you would be right to do so.  I think this is a question that should always be on our minds, because we do not know if this will be our last day on earth.  It could be your final minutes right now.  It could be mine.  I often think that if I knew that, I would be running through the streets telling everyone about the saving power of Jesus Christ.  That they need to repent and accept His sacrifice for their sins.  That they need to read their bibles and come to know how to live as brothers and sisters in Christ.  This is what Paul was doing, after all.  And Paul knew His time was at hand.  He knew he was going to die at the hand of the Romans soon.  He knew his ministry would be over.

But would it be?  Would his ministry end at the hand of the Romans?  No, it would not.  Because he had built something that would last way past his lifetime.  He left teachers and pastors, like Timothy and Titus, in place to continue his ministry.  He wrote letters that are still used today to shape doctrine and help us see what Christ did and why.  This is a lasting legacy that still lives today.  I really think Paul knew that his letters would reach way past the churches he was sending them to.  I think he knew that his life was meant to bring glory to God for generations yet to come.   After all, he does say that he fought a good fight, finished his course and ran his race.  The fight he fought was against the false religions of the heathen and the false teaching of those who would pervert the gospel.  The course he ran was through Corinth and Ephesus and Galatian and many more towns.  His race was against the evil of the day which would eventually take his life.

His legacy is called the church, and it is just as alive today as it was in his day.  It may seem like it is waning.  It may seem like the church is turning away from the true teachings of Paul, Peter, John, and the others.  There is a watered down, counterfeit church out there that is succumbing to the ways of the world and giving in to false teachers, running to them with their itching ears.  They have lost sight of the true meaning of Paul’s words and decided to follow mans’ words instead.  They believe that man’s words are just as important as God’s words and slowly but surely, they are led into heresy.  The farther they go down that road, the farther away from God they get.  Soon, the church and the world will look the same.

But the true church is not moving away from God, but moving toward Him.  They are moving forward in spiritual power and authority.  They are storming the gates of hell as prayer warriors and spiritual leaders.  This is where we must keep the faith.  This is where we must fight the good fight.  God needs each and every one of us to take the same attitude Paul takes in verse 6.  We may not know this is our last party, but we should act that way.  We should give everything we’ve got to do what God has asked each one of us to do.  Do you know what God has asked of you?  Is it cleaning the church, or being an usher, or playing the piano, or writing a blog, or so many other things God can use you for?  Whatever it is, do it with all you have because you will only get one shot.  I know there are a lot of things I can work harder at and devote more time to.  I now God has a bigger plan for my life and that I must walk the path to fulfilling those things.  I Know that even at 69 years old, God isn’t even close to being done with me yet!  I have not fought as good a fight as I could have, I have not been as faithful as I am capable of and I have not finished my course.  My plan is to listen for the voice of God and go where He leads me.  What is your plan?

Paul then talks about the crown of righteousness.  He says this is laid up for those who love His appearing.  I have asked myself in the past how this relates to the previous 2 verses, and it just struck me.  If we love His appearing, we will do all we can to prepare others for when that event happens!  We will be sharing the Gospel with all who we meet.  We will sing His praise at every chance we get. We will share our testimony over and over again, telling people about the goodness of our God.  We will defend the Gospel, and our God, against those who do not believe and would try to say God is not good.  Personally, if I want this crown.  I need to work harder, write more, practice more, study more.  I need to simply put myself more deeply into His hands so that He can do His work in me.  It is my decision, after all.

Now I have to ask again: How would you answer that question? What would you do different if you knew this was your last day, or last week on this earth?  I can’t wait to get your comments.  May God give you strength to fight, endurance to run, and glory at the finish line.

 

Make Full Proof of Your Ministry

2 Timothy 4:5

 

But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry

What good is our ministry if there is no evidence, no proof, that other people see in us? Everything we do and say should reflect the ministry that God has placed within us.  And all of us have a ministry! Don’t for one minute think that you are exempt.  If God has saved you. He has called you.  And if he calls you, He places within you talents to reach other people.  Paul puts in this way in Romans 8:30:

30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

Whom he calls he justifies and glorifies.  What that means to me is that God will place within us a form of glory that can’t help but touch other people.  The glory of the Lord can be seen by the unbeliever as much as the believer.  When we walk in this glory, it reaches beyond our human flesh to minister to others.  There is a caution I want to give, though.  We must be very careful not to raise up in pride because we carry this little bit of glory within us.  It would be easy to give in to that pride, but we must not. That will destroy the ministry He has given us.

Let’s take a closer look at the four things Paul tells Timothy to do in this powerful verse.

  • Watch in all things.  This word watch is an interesting one.  The Greek word is nepho, which in most cases is translated “Be sober,” meaning not intoxicated.  But the deeper meaning is to have presence of mind, to always keep your mind clear of things that would distract one form the ministry.  The enemy of our souls can use anything to distract us and keep us from being the light we are supposed to be.  In my opinion, 2020 was a year he used science and politics to distract many Christians from the ministry of saving souls.  The Coronavirus brought fear to the hearts of billions of people and caused many a preacher to change their message from salvation to end times theology.  There were more people preaching about the last days than I have ever seen in my 69 years on this earth.  We do not, nor never will, know the time or day when Jesus will return.  We can look at the signs, and warn people He is coming, but that is not the important thing.  The important thing is that people get saved.  That they trust their lives to Jesus. But instead of preaching the love of God, many preached the wrath of God.  It is by His love that people get saved.                                                                       The political arena was also quite disturbing.  So many jumped on the bandwagon of a rigged election and fake news that it was confusing.  But God is not the author of confusion.  Our job, our mission, in times of uncertainty is simple.  Be a tree beside still waters that will not be moved.  Stay in the word and out of the jungle of political rhetoric.  God needs us to stay sober minded, cautious of the ways of the world, but temperate in what we say and do. The church in many ways lost it’s bearing in 2020, and we need to get back to the place where we are watchful and wise.  Adding emphasis, Paul says in ALL things.  I could preach for a long time on all, but let’s just say there should be nothing we are confused or conflicted about.
  •  Endure afflictions – This is actually one word in the Greek and it means exactly what it says.  It is translated this way and also endure sufferings.   The Greek seems to point not only to those things that come against us to set back our ministry, but also things of malicious intent that may never harm us personally, but will have a negative affect on our ministry.  Things like gossip and backbiting people would fall into this category.  We must not let our anger rise up, or try to get revenge or engage in any activity to get back at those who would commit such acts.  The Gospel is all about Christ’s love.  We must always show that love, even if a storm is raging against us.  This dedication to endure to the end will show others we live in real faith and that will bring people to Christ.  The fruit of longsuffering as aptly worded in the KJV.  Suffering long with wrong is a hallmark of the best of saints. On to of that, nothing, and I mean nothing, should offend us.  It is only pride that can get offended.  Only pride can get steamed up over something someone says or does against us.  When I was at Pure Life Ministries back in 2008, there was a saying on the wall that I wall always remember.  It said “If I get offended, what miserable piece of flesh is still in me that I can get offended.”  We must guard against allowing people to get under our skin and make our love not as effective.  Endure. or work through, and type of affliction without getting offended.  Your testimony will be greatly enhanced when you do this effectively.
  • Do the work of an evangelist. – This word means exactly what we think it means.  Timothy had a calling to be a bearer of Good News to all he met.  That is what an evangelist does.  We are all called to bring the Good News to those we come in contact with and we can do that in many ways.  The first way is to actually preach the Gospel, to vocally proclaim the Good News that Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose again to give us eternal life.  But there are more ways to actually preach the good news, and the most important one is by our conduct and character.  In the Bible it is often called our conversation.
    • Philippians 1:27 says “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;”
    • Hebrews 13:15 “ Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
    •  James 3:13 “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.”  
    • And 1 Peter 1:15 “ But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;” 
    • All of these verses point to a lifestyle that is above contempt and that visibly shows to other people  the work that Christ has done in us.  We can have all the flowery words we want, but if we do not have the conversation to go along with it, they are vain words and will lead people astray.  Make sure your lifestyle is where your mouth is!

Make full proof of your ministry – carry out completely what God ahs called you to do!  What a strong challenge Paul gives to Timothy and to all of us.  Do you know what God ahs called you to do?  Does God every stop calling us deeper, or to do more?  Our ministry is always evolving, always changing.  He has great things for every one of us to do, and if we listen closely, He will tell us what the next step is.  We have to be careful not to get off track, but to follow the path he has laid out for us.  This world is dying to hear the Good News.  How is God calling you to share it?  What is your ministry?  Whatever it is, whether washing the walls, preaching the gospel, teaching Sunday School, being a greeter or maybe a prayer warrior, do it with all your might and God just might call you deeper.  Be ready!