Category Archives: Word of God

Planting Seeds

Note to Reader: A link to a video is provided below.  It is a tribute to someone who has exemplified a life of planting seeds, as discussed in this article.

Blog_ThumbnailBoom! There are times when we can see the impact of our actions instantly. I remember watching a friendly game of washers turn into a goofy and out of control game of basketball washers, where they were trying to block each other’s attempt to get the washer in the box. The problem with this was that there were cars nearby, and one of the washers went through the rear window of my car, shattering the glass all over the back seat. Not a fan of that version of the game.

There are other times when we don’t see the impact of our actions for a long time. Maybe we never see any during our lifetime. However, every action that we take, or don’t take, has an outcome, whether for the good or the bad. Again, some actions or events can have instant, large impacts. Other actions may result in small or even unseen impacts. A small, simple effort may not seem to have any effect initially, but, years later, could influence numerous people and events. In fact, these may end up having more long-term, lasting influence then events that seem to have immediate, blockbuster impact.

“Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.” 1 Peter 1:10-12

There are many things that could be said about this passage. One of major points relates to the prophecy of Scripture. The Old Testament foretold the coming of Christ. Their prophesies not only indicated what type of Messiah the people should expect, but it even provided details about when he would be coming. In other words, the people should not have been surprised by Jesus Christ when He came. It is one of the ways in which God shows the accuracy and trustworthiness of the Word of God. I spoke on this last time, so I am not going to touch on it at this time. However, if you would like to study more on the topic of the reliability of Scripture, see the resources available from the 2015 EFCA Theology Conference which focused on The Doctrine of the Scriptures. This is excellent material from some leading evangelical scholars and teachers.

For today, I want to focus on one phrase in 1 Peter 1:12, where it says, “It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you…” These prophets were writing what the Spirit had revealed to them. However, in addition to the actual prophecies of the coming Messiah, it was revealed to them that they were serving a people yet to be born. They were told that they were serving the people who would come to trust and follow Jesus Christ. Long after they were dead, the writings of the prophets would serve the followers of Christ. Therefore, their faithfulness to listen and respond to God, served those who lived hundreds and even thousands of years in the future. And this includes those of us today who follow Jesus Christ.

What immediate results did the prophets see when they proclaimed the message given to them by God? Stephen, right before he was stoned to death, provides the answer. “Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.” (Acts 7:52-53). The primary result the prophets saw from their faithfulness was persecution and death. And yet, the prophecies they recorded would serve God’s followers for years to come.

So, how does this apply to us? When we follow Christ, we are called to live our lives to give glory to God, faithfully serving through the opportunities that He gives us. Sometimes, we see the results of our efforts. Other times, we don’t see any positive results. If fact, there are times when it seems like the opposite. We give ourselves in service to God and others, and we receive criticism and opposition in return. Or, the recipients of our gift of service actually turn away and go the opposite direction, walking away from God. This can be confusing and even heartbreaking. So, how do we respond?

Be faithful and keep planting seeds. Whatever God has called you to do, continue to do it faithfully. Whether you are a pastor, executive, laborer, housewife, teacher, service provider, or whatever you do, continue to serve and take the opportunities that God gives you to plant seeds along the way. God does not call us to produce results. He calls us to faithfulness. That is a weird message for modern America. We can get instant anything.  We want instant everything. God does not operate on our culture’s standards. We should be thankful for this.

Be humble. Some “Christians” receive opposition and criticism simply because they are jerks. I wanted to use a stronger word, but that would probably get me in trouble. It is true that the true message of Christ will be offensive to many. However, that does not mean that we have the right to idiotic behavior that would be offensive regardless of what we were presenting. In Scripture, God continually calls us to humility and to have a servant’s mindset. Do the work God called you to do with humility and compassion as you seek to plant seeds of the Gospel. We need to leave pride and arrogance at the cross, where they need to die.

Trust God with the results. As I said, God calls us to be faithful. He is the One Who produces the fruit from the work that He does in and through us. God may allow you to see the fruit of some of your efforts. For other things, you may never see the results in this lifetime. A faithful act performed today may result in someone’s life being changed hundreds or thousands of years from now. You may plant a seed through your service that leads to impact several generations from now. Trust God, He knows what He is doing. He will be faithful to complete the work He is doing in us for today and for generations to come, until Christ returns.

The video I have linked below dates back 27 years ago, to April 22, 1988. The quality of the video is not great. It is probably a copy of a copy of a copy of an old VHS tape. I don’t share it in order to show what a great performer I am, because the performance is not that great. I don’t share it to show how high my vocal range used to be, how much thinner I used to be, or how much more hair I had then. I share it to illustrate a point. This event was held in a large auditorium in Kansas City. However, there were not many people in attendance, even though we had advertised the event through radio and other avenues. Several music groups performed and a pastor friend of mine provided the message. I remember the event date because it was his birthday.

I was on the stage that night because God had used him as a faithful witness in my life. It was this man who first encouraged me in leading worship, even though I always thought that he was far better at it and more gifted than me. For almost five years, this man had been my friend and planted seeds in my life, encouraging me to seek God. This was during time of great time of struggle with doubt and confusion regarding my faith. It was a dark time spiritually. I was lost and floundering. And yet, there I was, five years later, on that stage, back on the road of faith in God and His Word, and giving praise to God.

I can’t point to any one thing that turned things around, but there was finally a point where things clicked, and I came to a decision that, though I did not understand everything, I was going to put my full trust in the Lord. It has not always been a smooth journey. There have been ups and downs. But I can say that I am where I am today because God used a faithful man, planting seeds, to serve the needs of others. To serve me. I am forever thankful for his friendship and his faithfulness.

So, keep living faithfully for the Lord and planting seeds because God will use you to serve the lives of others, even long after you have gone to be with Him.

Together for His glory…

Though You Have Not Seen Him

Blog_ThumbnailOne of my favorite parts of The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis occurs towards the end of the Prince Caspian book. Aslan has returned to Narnia after being away for a long time. The land had fallen under the tyrannical rule of King Miraz. He had banished all remnants and talk of the old Narnia, the time when animals talked and Aslan walked the land. These stories were regarded as fairy tales or “baby talk.”

Now, however, things were being put right once again. Prince Caspian, the true heir to the throne, would be made king and the land would once again awake to the wonder of the talking animals and the joy that Aslan had intended for Narnia. As Aslan bounded through the countryside, he came upon a small cottage, where Caspian’s old nurse lay dying. She had been banished by Miraz for teaching Caspian of the old, true Narnia.

Aslan began to enter the house, but, being too small for him, the whole house lifted up, fell backwards and came apart as he pushed through the door. The old woman, still in her bed, which was now in the open air, opened her eyes and saw Aslan: “…when she opened her eyes and saw the bright, hairy head of the lion staring into her face, she did not scream or faint. She said, ‘Oh, Aslan! I knew it was true. I’ve been waiting for this all my life.’”

“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:8-9

The example of the old nurse in Prince Caspian illustrates what the apostle Peter is saying in this passage. For those of us who have believed and trusted in Christ today, we are in much the same situation. We have believed the revelation given to us through the Word of God and the testimony of the many believers that have followed through the years. We have not seen Him, but we love Him.

Many will scoff at our faith. Don’t expect the world to support you in your love for Christ. Oh, they will tolerate you, up until the time when you really get serious about following Christ. At the point your faith really starts to make a difference in your life, though, they will start to avoid you, mock you, and even try to silence you. Because the life of Christ in you is the smell of death to them. However, for some, who are drawn to Christ, your life will bring the aroma of life – the life that Christ wants to give them (2 Corinthians 2:15-16). So, hold fast to your faith and following Christ, because He is working in and through you. Doubts and trials will come, but we have a sure faith, based on a God Who is trustworthy.

The truth about God and the life, death, and resurrection of Christ are reliable. Even C.S. Lewis, who was an atheist, had to come to terms with the truth. In the end, it was unavoidable to him, even though he was reluctant to give in. Don’t be fooled by the voices who tell you that there is no evidence for God and that no “real” scientist believes that there is an all-powerful God Who created the universe and holds it together. That is a flat out lie. In fact, the more I hear of recent discoveries being made in the sciences about our universe, rather than present less evidence for a creator, I believe that it demonstrates even greater the evidence of design and a creator. It’s almost as if God were coming right up to the scientist, nose-to-nose, and saying, “Look at me! I am right here.” But they still choose to not believe.

In addition, the reasons to believe in the Word of God, and the truths and historical details presented there, are great. There are many who will scoff at the reliability of Scripture, even those who call themselves Christians. They will tell you of errors and legends and go on and on about reasons why the Bible is reliable for certain things, but not all things. And, of course, they in all of their wisdom, are going to tell you the parts that are not reliable. I guess they forgot to discuss this with Jesus, Who said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” Matthew 5:17-18

There are many biblical scholars who uphold the authority and trustworthiness of the Word of God. And I am not talking about the kooks that they parade before us on television or the internet every time they want to demonstrate how out of touch the “bible thumping fundamentalists” are.  I am referring to godly men and women, who pour their lives into studying Scripture, its historical roots, archeology and ancient cultures, and the ancient biblical and early church manuscripts. Their work continues to demonstrate the reliable nature and truthfulness of the Word. So, when doubts arise or someone questions the Bible, don’t run from the situation. Take on the challenge as an opportunity to dig in and learn more and work through the questions and difficulties. Throughout the years, the Bible continues to prove skeptics wrong, demonstrating the faithfulness of God’s Word. For a great message on the evidence for the resurrection, listen to The Great Awakening, presented by Mike Priest on Easter Sunday.

Faith and trust in Christ brings joy and salvation. Though we have not seen Christ, the life He is producing in us results in joy that is not available from any other source. It is the joy that transformation brings. It is the joy of victory over sin and death. It is the joy of hope and expectation, looking forward to that day when we see Christ face to face. On that day, we will see the One Who we have been waiting to see since that the day we gave our life to Him. On that day, when we are made completely new, our salvation complete, we will see Him as He is and be filled with awe, wonder, and joy that is inexpressible.

What a day that will be. Until that day, we walk on in faith, placing our trust in the One Who is more than reliable. God’s Word is true and He confirms this in our hearts and minds by His Spirit. When many of Jesus’ followers had turned away, He asked His disciples if they wanted to go away also. Peter said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” (John 6:68-69). Though we have not seen Christ, God has confirmed in our hearts that He alone has the words of eternal life. He is our sure hope and salvation.

Together for His glory…

All Things

You’ve seen the commercials. They offer different products and services, but they are basically saying the same thing. They are the one-stop place for everything we need. Whether they are selling insurance, furniture, cars, home improvement supplies, weight loss, wedding planning, financial services, or even all-you-can-eat buffets, don’t go anywhere else because they have everything you need.

If were only true. However, we do have a resource available to us that makes these offers look empty and hollow, which most of them are. God has truly provided us with everything that we need, both now and for eternity. He is our Creator. He has given us life. He is our Redeemer. He has offered us eternal life, through Jesus Christ, if we will receive His gift. He is our Sustainer and Provider. He has promised that, if we trust in Him, He will provide our needs according to His riches in glory. Notice it says needs, not wants. He is sovereign and wise. God always knows what is exactly best, in every situation, all of the time. He is completely sufficient for every need.

I recently completed work on a song that is based on Romans 11:33-36. Verse 36 finishes the apostle Paul’s declaration of praise, stating that “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” I latched on to the last two words of that first sentence and titled the song, “All things.” That verse really packs a ton of theology into a few words. All things are from God, through God, and to God. These are powerful truths.

However, as I was working on finishing the song, I began to notice how many times that this two word phrase, “all things,” appeared in Scripture.  In the English Standard Version (ESV), it occurs 95 times in 80 verses. Obviously, in this space, I can’t list them all, but I thought I would share several that stood out to me and which reveal great truth and promises to us from God and His works.

“But who am I [David], and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you.” 1 Chronicles 29:14

“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” Job 42:2

“I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.” Psalm 138:2

“Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: ‘I am the LORD, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself.’” Isaiah 44:24

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9

“But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’” Matthew 19:26

“And he [Jesus] said, ‘Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’” Mark 14:36

All things were made through him [Jesus], and without him was not any thing made that was made.” John 1:3

“The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand.” John 3:35

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:26

“And all who believed were together and had all things in common.” Acts 2:44

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

“Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.” 1 Corinthians 8:6

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:7

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8

“In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.” Ephesians 1:11

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” Philippians 2:14

“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” Philippians 3:8

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

“He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:15-17

“For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.” Hebrews 3:4

“The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.” 1 Peter 4:7

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.” 2 Peter 1:3

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” Revelation 4:11

“And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’” Revelation 21:5

Friends, we can trust God in all things. He is sufficient for every need. He is worthy of our praise and our trust. He calls for us to come to Him and find in Him our greatest joy and all that we need. Jesus Christ paid the price for us to be able to come before God. What are we waiting for? He is our hope in all things, both now and forever.

Together for His glory…

I Can’t Hear You

It is a very windy day in St. Louis. As I sit in my office, I can occasionally see my curtains move, and the window is closed. A while ago, my wife called me. She was outside when she called. She said the wind was blowing so hard that it almost knocked her down a couple of times. But that was not the worst part of it. The noise of the wind in the phone was so loud that I could barely hear a word she said. Finally, she was able to get into the car and I could understand what she was saying. By then, though, we were both frustrated because it had been so hard to communicate. What should have been a simple conversation became virtually impossible.

It reminds me of a movie I saw once. Someone came to a friend’s house and was trying to talk to them. However, the music from the stereo was so loud that they could not hear what each other was saying. The visitor screamed, “Can you turn the music down?” to which their friend shouted, “I can’t hear you. The music is too loud.”

In this life, and especially in America, there seems to be a lot of noise. Sometimes, it is hard to even find a few quiet moments. As in the examples above, it can be very difficult to hear or be aware of things that are important. It can be hard to hear the voice of God. However, when we are having difficulty hearing the voice of God, I am not sure we can always blame this on the world we live in.

Don’t get me wrong. Satan and the world will not do us any favors when it comes to hearing the voice of God. The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). But I think that there are many times when they don’t have to do anything to pull us away from hearing God. We do it all by ourselves.

We don’t leave time for the Word or prayer. We neglect meeting together with the church, our brothers and sisters in Christ, to encourage and build each other up in the faith. We spend so much time on things that are not eternal and will, ultimately, do nothing to help us know Christ better. We fill our minds with the junk spewed out from the world’s self-focused, godless void.

Don’t misunderstand me.  I am not against all entertainment and art. I have sometimes been moved to deep thoughts about God and thankfulness and joy because of music, a movie, or a presentation by someone who is not a Christian. I think this is because God reveals Himself through His creation, even through people who don’t acknowledge Him and in spite of their efforts to deny Him.

However, we need to guard our hearts and minds. We need to know the voice of the Shepherd. Jesus said that His sheep know His voice (John 10:1-18). But it is hard to hear His voice when we are blasting the noise of the world in the same room. Jesus is saying, “Listen to me,” and we are screaming back, “I can’t hear you because my TV is too loud.” It could be anything. You fill in the blank. It could be friendships or relationships that pull us away from God. It could be music and entertainment that fill our minds with ungodly images or content. It could be our career or pursuit of money. It could be that we are just too busy.

Jesus said that He came that we might have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10). He wants us to know Him and to hear His voice. If I can’t hear Him, maybe it is not because He is not speaking. Maybe I just can’t hear Him over all of the other noise in my life. The Shepherd is calling. I just need to be still and listen (Psalm 46:10).

Together for His glory…