We are surrounded by voices that claim to speak God’s truth.They tell us what to believe, what to do, how to vote, how to spend our money and our time, how to raise our children and how to navigate our relationships.They claim to tell us the truth.But the truth is that many of the voices out there that claim to speak to us on behalf of God are fakers, cheats and phonies.
Jesus gave us a touchstone:“By their fruit you will recognize them.”If you know what the tree is you will know what kind of fruit to expect from it.Grapes don’t grow on apple trees and vice versa.But here is the danger:an apple may get stuck in a cactus, or a bunch of grapes may be found hanging on the thorn of a briar bush.Likewise, a good word or action may sometimes come from a bad man, but you may be sure that it didn’t grow there!Over time, you WILL know them for what they are.Jesus said the true prophet is one who quietly loves and forgives enemies, who prays in private and not out on the street corner, who secretly gives to the hungry without making a big deal about it, who doesn’t necessarily have the biggest bank account or line of credit, or who drives the fanciest car, but he sure enough has treasure in heaven where moth and rust do not corrupt!
What is the test of a true prophet?
Does his message agree with the rest of the Bible?Not everyone who claims to speak the truth really does speak the truth.Just because they use God’s name or quote the Bible doesn’t mean they speak for God.Jesus calls for healthy skepticism.We cannot accept something as true because it comes from a person who “sounds like” a Christian.
Beware of spiritual leaders who live by different rules than the rules that apply to everyone else.This doesn’t mean perfect obedience because no one is perfect.But it does mean perfect intentions, genuinely teaching God’s word by their lifestyle.
Not everyone who names God knows God.Not everyone who says, “Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven.”People may have a deep admiration for Jesus; claim to believe in Him and even to follow Him.They may even perform miracles in His name, but they don’t have a relationship with Him and it shows.If you know Jesus, you will obey Him.If you don’t know Him, you don’t have a relationship with Him.
True prophets will lead us to produce the kind of righteousness that is described in the Bible.It will promote faith in Christ alone, humility, love for others, and biblically defined morality.Any teaching which contradicts these values is false teaching.
GospeLines Prayer: Father, teach me to recognize the Truth when I hear it and to boldly expose the liars among us.Amen and amen.
Do you repeat the same patterns over and over in your life?Do you take a few steps ahead, but many more backward?Or, are you in the same rut and wondering why things never change?Do you subscribe to the “doing the same thing over and over, but expect different results” model?Standing at the same crossroads?
Do we learn anything from our missteps?It’s just familiar, not tried and truth, or is it?It’s our truth, but not what God has in store for us.How can we receive God’s blessings when we continue down the same slippery slope?
Speaking from experience, I know it’s difficult to change direction; to relinquish control.But, trusting God in ALL things is freeing and better than anything I can imagine (and I have a vivid imagination).
It is difficult to sit on the sidelines, observing others who continue to carry the same burdens – fiscal mismanagement, ill-fated relationships, misguided priorities, unsettled lives, and a self-centered focus.
God’s kingdom is vast and it’s time to refocus, re-energize and repent.Our lens are too narrow and perhaps a bit cloudy.We have much to be thankful for and to offer for His glory.
It’s not too late to ask God to show us the way.Our future can burn brighter once we stop looking back over our shoulders and let God in to do His marvelous works in and through us!
Prayer:Here I am again, Lord, seeking a word for Your hurting and lost children.Some aren’t even aware that they need to call on You.Some are half-hearted in their willingness to seek You in ALL aspects of their lives.I don’t know if it’s pride or if we’re just stubborn, but I do know we need YOU!If only this message can reach one lost soul, it will not be in vain.
May we be mindful of Your word in 1 John 3:16-17 (The Message)—
16-17This is how we've come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God's love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.
We may not have the monetary means to make a difference, but we do have something to offer--our time and talents are gifts from You.May we use them for Your glory.
Nothing will prepare you for the destruction caused by a carelessly built foundation.If you have a strong foundation you can build or rebuild anything on it; if your foundation is weak, whatever you build on it is at risk.Saint Augustine said, “Do you wish to be great…do you desire to construct a vast and lofty fabric?Think first about the foundation of humility. The higher your structure is to be, the deeper must be its foundation.”The more we prize the structure built upon it, the greater attention we need to give to the foundation upon which it is built.James Dobson has reminded us that “Children are not casual guests in our home.They have been loaned to us temporarily for the purpose of loving them and instilling a foundation of values on which their future lives will be built.”
Many of the homes and buildings destroyed by the earthquake which hit Haiti had poorly built foundations.Much attention is now being given to strengthening the foundations as we help them rebuild their country.Even though a bad foundation is exposed following a catastrophic event when it’s too late, there are early signs of serious erosion to alert us that a problem exists.A child will exhibit signs of moral weakness the same as a building may show signs of listing or leaning due to poor construction.As caretakers we cannot ignore these warnings!
Jesus spoke in ways the Hebrew audience would understand, because in Palestine selecting where you built your house was a critical decision.That smooth piece of stable earth you built upon in the summer could become a dangerous ravine during the winter rains, washing away everything built there.A parent who lets the child choose whether or not to attend church or Bible study will regret that mistake when they realize that the teenager living in their house is too far gone without special help to save him.Building a proper foundation means knowing with certainty that morality must be built upon the rock of Jesus Christ!One day we may all look back to this time in history and say in unison, “The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash!”And it happened because Christians did not stand up and speak with one voice, “This will not happen on my watch!”
Will you share the words of this devotional with someone else today?Please tell them that the risk is too high for us to continue building on the shifting sands of religious pluralism and political correctness.We are far past the day when we can close our eyes and lips to the aggressive non-Christian changes made in the education of our children over the past decade.No longer can we ignore the breakdown of Christian standards in our workplace and government.While we passively turned our heads to the removal of public prayer in our nation, and the forced takedown of Christian icons which stood for a century, and while other non-Christian religions were given preferential protection in our society, our Christian foundation was crumbling beneath our feet.
Following a destructive storm you will find a house or two still standing…one there, another one around the corner, remaining untouched like a silent declaration of dependence upon a Mighty God, our Protector in time of trouble.They withstood because they built a firm foundation.Beloved, we need to seek out those people who are like us, who have built their spiritual houses upon the Rock; we need to stand with them now before the storm reaches a disastrous intensity from which there is no return.“But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.”
GospeLines Prayer:Father, knock us to our knees in prayers of repentance for the way we have closed our eyes to the warning signs around us.And don’t let us up until we are ready to follow You into action.When the time comes for us to get up and fight back, let us stand as one army, mighty in number, with courage in our hearts, to PEACEFULLY reclaim Your world as the kingdom of God until You return for your Church.Amen and amen.
I’ve started a letter to You many times…in my mind.I know You knew me before I was formed in my mother’s womb and You know my every thought.And, You know my heart…
I hope You know that I love You even though I haven’t communicated with You lately as often as I should have.I’ve felt disjointed and it’s because I feel my back has been up against the wall.I’m certain You know what I feel and why…there just aren’t enough hours in the day.
We live in a world that is so frantic; our paces are at such a clip, we can hardly keep up with schedules.If we didn’t have Personal Digital Assistants, we couldn’t remember where to be at any given point and time.We often carry two calendars, one for personal activities and one for work.I’m not complaining about being busy, Lord.I am thankful You have provided for my needs and a few wants as well…there just aren’t enough hours in the day.
I try to keep up with the priorities set for me; even try to get ahead whenever possible.Work requires project deadlines and being fiscally prudent with the company’s money.There are compliance requirements, on-going computer-based training and daily monitoring of the intensity of my work on the computer (using the mouse and keyboard).Because safety is always at the forefront, we’re also expected to record safe and risky behaviors.You see it; you own it.And, our communication style and potential are determined through a diagnostic tool called E-colors.
(Oh God, I am thankful that I don’t need a diagnostic tool to talk to You…and when it’s all said and done, I want to be the woman You say I am.Surely my potential isn’t based on a diagnostic tool created by man.Can You help me, Lord?I’m conversing as earnestly and directly as I know how.)
I’ve missed commitments at church…be it choir rehearsals or the (just completed) Lay Teaching Committee meetings and that didn’t feel good either, but I needed to meet my job responsibilities.At the end of the day when I utter, “Thank you, Lord,” I am mentally exhausted…there just aren’t enough hours in the day.
Show me how to savor the all-too-brief moments I spend with friends and family.Show me how to smell the roses as I walk out to the flowerbed near my patio door.Show me how to appreciate the time I commune with You when my mind is clouded with so many other thoughts.(You know, Lord, reciting the laundry list of projects left undone…)
And, when You awaken me in the morning, let me be joyous to start this rat race all over again.
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When Tim Tebow speaks, people listen!
Writers and speakers often quote from specialists on a subject because they aren’t experts themselves and haven’t earned the right to speak authoritatively about it.Last weekend I was fortunate to listen to the testimony of Tim Tebow who spoke on Mothers Day about Mothers who are the real champions, the dedication needed to play the sport of college football, and what it takes to live a godly life while competing in a violent college sport at a level that made him one of the best that ever played the game.Have you listened to his acceptance speech when he won the Heisman Trophy award?You should.It’s available on our website for the next week.(Click here when you’re ready to view his testimony and Heisman speech.) Watch the video and you will know, as I do, why people listen as Tim Tebow speaks about these matters.
We listen because he speaks as a person with authority on the subject.Jesus took Palestine by storm when He delivered His Sermon on the Mount.In these last two verses of the sermon it was said of His audience that they listened in amazement because he spoke as one with authority, not like their teachers from the synagogues who often spoke with a double tongue.People want to hear someone that shoots straight with them and makes sense when they speak!
That’s why there was such a fuss in Memphis when Tim Tebow came to town for a couple of weeks.He stayed with his agent, Jimmy Sexton, and worked out withhigh school receivers in preparation for his new team, the Denver Broncos.But everyone wants a piece of that Tebow “magic” and people were bothering him everywhere he went.The Broncos said the sales for his number 15 jersey have broken all records for rookies.But with all the fuss, Tim is the same unassuming, down to earth guy he was when he was winning conference and national titles at Gator Nation in Florida.Sexton asked him how he stayed so humble, why he didn’t get the big head like so many other exceptional athletes.
In these two verses, Matthew 7:28-29, this is the third time in His sermon Jesus hints that He is more than a mere man.But He does it with such humility that people hardly noticed what He was saying.In Matthew 5:11-12, He suggests that His disciples would be punished for following Him as were the Old Testament prophets for worshipping Jehovah.And in Matthew 7:21, when compared with Luke’s version of the sermon, it is clear that Jesus considers Himself on a par with His Father.
And there you have it.Jesus spoke as one with the Father because HE HAS AUTHORITY!Beloved, when we speak as one with Jesus, it isn’t by OUR authority but we share His authority AND His humility.Teddy Roosevelt told of a proverb he picked up while visiting West Africa sometime around 1900.When he became president he used that proverb in a speech in Chicago in 1903:“Speak softly but carry a big stick.”Our authority comes from Jesus.Use it boldly but wisely in your living testimony.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, we are powerfully influenced by sports, Hollywood and TV personalities, some who lead us astray.Give us more role models like Tim Tebow, and help us to find OUR platform that will draw others to Jesus; then let us stand with authority to share the message of the Bible, which is the ONLY way to eternal life, no matter what Oprah says.Amen and amen.