If you have stumbled here by accident let me first insist that there really are no accidents in life. If however, you came on your own free will then please by all means open your hearts and your minds to the "New Wine" that God has prepared for you!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Soft hearts

“Change my heart Oh God, make it ever true, change my heart Oh God may I be like You!” Becoming a Christian isn’t rocket science and doesn’t take a special degree. In fact you can’t purchase a way to God, or work hard enough to earn salvation but, instead, you must come humbly asking to receive the free gift that God has offered the entire world. Once you believe and receive, it’s time to begin the process of softening your heart.

During the days Jesus walked on the earth, men had compiled many traditions and added many of their own laws to what God had given to Moses on Mount Horeb. In fact, many of these man-made laws were born out of a desire to circumvent how God instructed us to live. These religious leaders had hearts that were not compassionate, loving or caring but instead hard and full of selfishness. They were self consumed with titles and lusted after power and authority giving little attention to the common man who really needed help.

In Matthew 15:8,9 Jesus quotes from the book of Isaiah 29:13 “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”  Jesus went on to say “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man.”

I counted 870 entries under the category of “heart” in Strong’s Concordance which illustrates the importance of the condition of our hearts is to God. So let me ask you a question, what is your heart condition? Do you have a soft heart of flesh or is your heart hard and cold like a stone? 

The psalmist writes in Psalm 119:11 “Your word I have hidden in my heart that I might not sin against You.” Again in Psalm 139:23 The psalmist cries out for correction “Search me O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” It is so important to take time to evaluate our heart condition and even more important to ask God to search our hearts, soften our hearts and help us in the task of learning how we ought to love one another.

 God instructed Moses in the book of Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Then later in 15:7 God commands Moses “you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother”.

I can’t begin to list all 870 individual verses that have to deal with our hearts but one verse really caught my attention.  I found it in the book of Ezekiel 36:25-26, speaking of the re-gathering of the nation of Israel “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”

Soft, undivided hearts is what God wants all of us to have. Putting aside childish selfishness and really reaching out to the myriad of people living all around us. All the while watching us from His perch in eternity He sees the better road for us to travel and yearns for us to walk with Him, being filled with Him and pouring out our lives into a world of parched and dry lost souls.

In the precious words of Jesus from His last night on the earth, “Let not your hearts be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; That where I am, there you may be also.” Then as Jesus answers the beloved Thomas’ question as to the way to get to the Father Jesus replies, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

So as the season’s galas continue, trick or treat  will eventually yield to a more savory Thanksgiving feast, may I suggest that we all take some time to ask God to search our hearts. Sprinkling us with clean water and putting a new spirit within, then maybe soon we will have new, soft hearts of flesh in time to celebrate with all men the wondrous gift of Christmas morning.   




Friday, October 24, 2014

Devine watchmaker

Let’s think about the task of producing a working watch for a moment. Our first step would require planning, design and blueprints. Only then could we design and create the machines that forge and produce each individual part needed to assemble a watch.  All of the miniature springs, gears and movements will have to be designed and built to extreme tolerances. Now supposing we take all these brand new parts and throw them out into a field. How many millions of years of evolution would go by before they accidentally assemble themselves into a functional watch?

Creationists believe that our universe had a beginning and will also have an end. They admit to seeing inescapable elements of design in the sub-atomic world, in our own world and the entire universe in which we live. There are too many aspects of design literally all around us. Obvious evidence that the watch maker was not blind but indeed can see beyond the physical limits of time and space! The following story is an example of how God inspired 40 different authors to write 66 books over a period of 2,000 years and still manage to maintain literary consistency.

When I was about 15 years old I began a search for the truth. I remember my search eventually landed me at the foot of the cross. I went forward to receive Christ (I made a public confession) at the altar of a worship service at Scott Memorial East in El Cajon, CA. I began to study the bible only to be frustrated with such a large book filled with names I couldn’t pronounce, places I’ve never heard of and stories I did not understand. One example is found in the gospel of John 3:1-21.

In this story Jesus is talking to a Pharisee named Nicodemus.  He has come to Jesus by night, under the cover of darkness to hide his identity, to hear from Him what God wanted to say to mankind. Jesus tells him that unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. To which Nicodemus responds “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 

Jesus explains that a man must first be born into the physical world through the flesh and then born into the spiritual world through the Spirit in order to see the kingdom of God. In John 3:14 Jesus uses an Old Testament prophecy hidden within the writings of Moses to illuminate the answer for Nicodemus.
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” 

Now if you are a new believer or someone who has not studied the Old Testament, this quote from Jesus will make absolutely no sense. On the other hand, if you have taken the time to study this story in Numbers 21:9, which was written by Moses 1500 years before the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, you will see evidence showing that God inspired this prophecy to point to a future moment in time.

The children of Israel had been wandering around in the desert grumbling and complaining. So the Lord sent fiery serpents that bit the people and many died. The people repented and asked Moses to pray for God’s intervention. God instructs Moses to make a fiery serpent and place it on a pole. When someone was bitten and they looked up to the serpent on the pole, they lived. 

It’s both interesting and at the same time very odd that God instructed Moses to make a bronze serpent and had him place it on a pole to be lifted up. The serpent represented the original sin from the Garden of Eden while the bronze it was made from represented judgment, so together it was symbolic of “sin judged”. 

Now 1500 years later, Jesus is making reference to this Old Testament story as the same time as Nicodemus is asking basically “How a man must be saved?” Jesus is pointing out to him, and all of us, that in a few short days He Himself would be placed on a pole lifted up to die for all of our sins. As all who would choose to look up to Him, and believe in Him would be saved! 

God sent His own Son to become sin for us, He watched as we nailed Him to a tree so that one day we could see the kingdom of God. Our Divine watchmaker even inspired His-story  to be written in advance so that in hearing, we might believe in the provision of His Son. All who believe in their hearts and confess with their mouths will be saved!

Friday, October 17, 2014

The bench

The bench sat alongside a lonely stretch of dirt road under the shadow of Victoria Peak. Day after day horse drawn wagons passed by but their riders never bothered to stop and enjoy the breathtaking views from the bench. Many full moons passed when a woman appeared planting flowers around the wooden bench. Soon the bulbs sprouted and grew into beautiful spring lilies that seem to clothe the bench in a beautiful God-spun coat of many colors.  The woman also placed a small twisted circle of woven briers complete with large thorns over a rusty spike that had been driven into an old rugged wooden cross which stood behind and to the left of the bench.

Soon spring left the bench to be pummeled by the scorching winds of summer. As the last drops of moisture from the bench’s wooden slats evaporated into thin air, the bench began to crack and split. When cooler nights came the bench would gaze up at the stars wondering if this was all there was to life? He knew he had a purpose in life but still nobody ever seemed to find time to sit and enjoy his comfort and majestic views of the surrounding hills.

One day, as a gentle breeze began blowing, several leaves floated down from the heights coming to rest on the seat of the bench. The leaves startled but delighted the bench all dressed in their brightly colored warm hues of red, orange and yellow. The woman who planted the spring flowers and hung the crown of thorns returned to pay the bench a visit. She was not alone and in her arms was a black cloaked figure which was holding a pumpkin. The pumpkin had been carved with a face and a flickering candle illuminated its interior.

One evening, as a full moon crested over the hills, the bench had many unexpected visitors. Hordes of children came by to stare at the ghoulish figure that was unmoved. The kids were all dressed up in costumes complete with scary masks that covered their faces. They all stopped to stare at the mysterious figure sitting on the bench who was holding his pumpkin head in his hands. They all laughed and giggled and some boys even threw rocks at the headless ghost’s glowing head.  The bench was overjoyed that someone was actually taking notice of him and had hardly noticed the rocks that the little boys had bounced off his back.

Soon clouds began to gather pushing themselves up against the tall mountain sides. The gathering gloom brought with it rain and sleet that covered the ground. One night, as the temperature began to drop, the sleet turned into beautiful flakes of snow. Each flake was unique as it swirled through the cold night air landing so very lightly on the top of the bench’s seat. The swirling night air caused a shiver to move down his back.
During the day, wagons carrying the harvest in from the fields made ruts in the muddy dirt road. The wagons were overflowing with corn, pumpkins, gourds and all sorts of fruit and vegetables. There were so many things to be thankful for, but still nobody came by to visit him. The woman who been there so many times before hadn’t been by in a long time he began to worry that she might not come back.

As the storms continued pounding the countryside, the snow began to pile up around the bench until one day he couldn’t see anything at all. He sat for many days and nights alone shivering in the solitude of a snow drift. Then one day he heard someone shoveling snow and the familiar voice of the woman. She was singing hymns with each scoop of the shovel as the cold wet snow was removed. 

At last the warmth of the sun was beginning to shine on Him. The woman began adorning him with brightly colored glass ornaments, garlands and beautiful tinsel. She then laid a manger at his feet with a small baby that had been wrapped in swaddling clothes. A loving mother and father were set up as if they were admiring the baby. Magi and an assortment of sheep, cows and donkeys were placed in the snow just outside the proud parents. 

The bench was now the center attraction of the entire village as people, both young and old, passed by to admire the newborn babe. Nobody threw rocks this time and even a choir stood by singing praise to the baby who was some kind of special king. The bench watched all the smiling faces that peaked out from under the colorful scarves wrapped tightly against their necks. But it wasn’t until the preacher arrived and began reading from a special book that the bench understood who the baby was. He was the Son of God and prophesied Messiah that was given as a gift to the entire world!