Knee-Prints

“When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.” (Matthew 6:5)

C.W. Renwick said, “The only footprints on the sands of time that will really last, are the ones made after knee-prints!”

I love that statement! As I have come to understand prayer through the years, I believe that when I pray, I am actually asking God to ACT in my life. My prayer allows the hand of God to work in my life so that His will can be accomplished in this world. For the Pharisees, prayer tended to become formalized and therefore lost the relational quality that Jesus encouraged in our prayer life. Jesus pointed out that the hypocrites prayed to be seen by men and prayed in vain repetitions in hopes that God would be pleased with their choice of words.

Two quick lessons…

First, Matthew 6:5 reminds me that all true prayer must be offered TO God and God ALONE. The fault of the hypocrites was they were praying to men — not God. Instead of impressing men with our words, we should pray to have God impress His will upon our hearts.

Second, the God to whom we pray is more ready to answer our prayers than we are to pray. We are not going to a God who has to be coaxed into answering our prayers. We are coming to One whose desire is to give. Allow your prayer life to become a place where God’s will can be accomplished through you. You will not only received a blessing, you will BE a blessing to your family and friends.

Here’s a poem I have kept in my files that I take out and read occasionally…

I knelt to pray when day was done,
And prayed, ‘O Lord bless every one,
Life from every saddened heart the pain,
And let the sick be well again.’

And then I woke another day,
And carelessly went upon my way.
The whole day long I did not try
To wipe a tear from any eye.

I did not try to share the load
Of any brother on the road.
I did not even go to see
The sick man just next door to me.

Yet once again when day was done,
I prayed, ‘O Lord bless everyone.’
But as I prayed, unto my ear,
There came a voice that whispered clear.

‘Pause, hypocrite, before you pray,
Whom has you tried to bless today?
God’s sweetest blessings always go
By hands which serve Him below.’

And then I hid my face and cried,
‘Forgive me, God for I have lied.
Let me but live another day,
And I will live the way I pray!’

I pray that when I look back over my life and ministry — I see many KNEE-PRINTS which will indicate to me that I have truly depended on the power of God to guide me.

Have a great day.

Tomorrow…Tomorrow

“whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” (James 4:14)

Benjamin Franklin said, “Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time. For that’s the stuff life is made of.”

The Old Testament equivalent to our verse from James is found in Proverbs 27:1. It says, “Do not boast about tomorrow, of for you do not know what a day may bring forth.” In other words, you and I need to be careful about making statements about what we intend to do in the future. The lesson I have learned (often the hard way) and I want you to learn is a simply one. If there is some kindness we should show, some word of encouragement that should be spoken — NOW is the time to do it. If we put it off, we may not have another opportunity.

Some wise person has said — “Tomorrow, today will be yesterday.”

In his classic work, The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis tells the legend about Satan and his imps planning their strategy for attacking the world that’s hearing the message of salvation. One of the demons says, “I’ve got the plan, master. When I get on the earth and take charge of people’s thinking, I’ll tell them there’s no heaven.”

The devil responds, “Ah, they’ll never believe that. This Book of Truth is full of messages about the hope of heaven through sins forgiven. They won’t believe that. They know there’s a glory yet future.”

On the other side of the room another says, “I’ve got the plan. I’ll tell ’em there’s no hell.”

“No good,” he says. “Jesus, while He was on earth talked more of hell than of heaven. They know in their hearts that their wrong will have to be taken care of in some way. They deserve nothing more than hell.”

And one brilliant little imp in the back stood up and said, “Then I know the answer. I’ll just tell them there’s no hurry.” And he’s the one Satan chose.

Don’t believe the lie that you have plenty of time to get done all that should be done. Do what you should while you can. If there is a letter than needs to be written — write it. If there is a phone call to be made — make it. If there is a hospital visit you should make — do it. What about that word of testimony you’ve been meaning to share with that unsaved friend? You’d better take care of that today! What about that relationship that needs mending? Don’t put it off one day longer. If you do, it may never get done.

Most importantly — if you are not saved — TODAY is the day for you to confess your sin and repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. There is nothing that you will ever do that is more important than that. Listen carefully to the Holy Spirit as He draws you to the Savior. If you have questions about that or would like to talk with me further — I would welcome the opportunity.

Remember — “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.”

Have a great day.

An Oak or a Squash…

“You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall yeah them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up.” (Deuteronomy 11:18-19)

My daughter, Danielle has been out of high school 10 years!

“WOW, Pastor Keith — you are getting OLD.”

Thank you for reminding me — but I can assure you I am well aware of the way I am aging. Some days I wake up and say — “Good morning, Lord!” Other days I wake up and say — “Good Lord, it’s morning!!!”

But I’m not writing to talk about my age.

Back to my aging daughter…

When she graduated from high school, the average cost to send a child to a public university was $12,841. To attend a private university, the cost was $27,677 PER YEAR! That included tuition, fees, room, board, books and incidental expenses.

Now, I’m a grandfather. According to a report from USNews.com, by the time Hudson (the most wonderful child ever born — I’ll post a picture for you to see in a minute) goes to college, the average cost at a public institution for just TUITION will be $44,047 per year. The cost of a 4 year degree will be more than $205,000.

Perhaps the understatement of the year is — “It is expensive to educate our children!”

M.L. Boren said, “You should have education enough so that you won’t have to look up to people; and then more education so that you will be wise enough not to look down on people.”

I firmly believe and support education. My daughter is a public school teacher (the best third grade teacher in the world) in Raleigh, NC. I’m so proud that she has dedicated her life to helping children in the public arena. I want to help make sure all our children receive a great education.

As I’ve been thinking about this, I also believe that the spiritual education of our children is important — and it is also costly. It requires time, effort, faith, patience and self-control. The price of being personally involved in teaching your child is high. And it’s rising. According to the Bible, in the last days, evil forces will become increasingly stronger. Secularism has saturated our culture — even the church. The mood of our culture has made the task of discipleship all the more important.

We should not fool ourselves. Our children need more than just Sunday School and worship experiences. They need parents, teachers, friends, and pastors who live Godly lives in spite of the evil things that go on around us. Our children need to see in us what it means to be loving, selfless followers of Jesus Christ.

Educating our children is costly. It takes just about everything we’ve got. But it is surely worth it.

A student asked the president of his school if there was a course he could take that was shorter than the one prescribed in his field. “Oh yes,” replied the president, “but it depends on what you want to be. When God wants to make an oak, He takes a hundred years, but when He wants to make a squash, it only takes six months.”

I want to make sure that my grandchildren turn out to be mighty oaks for God! How about you?

Oh — I almost forgot — I promised you a picture of the most beautiful grandchild in the world!

photo

Have a great day.

According To Your Faith

“Then He touched their eyes, saying, ‘It shall be done to you according to your faith.'” (Matthew 9:29)

The answer to the problems of my life and yours is still found in God’s Word. The phrase “according to your faith” is a truth that many in our world today have forgotten. In Matthew 9, two blind men followed Jesus in hopes of gaining their sight. When Jesus asked if they believed He was able to help them, they replied without hesitation, “YES, LORD.” Jesus touched their eyes and immediately they were healed. They were healed by their FAITH.

For 18 years, Dr. Harry Ironside was pastor of the Moody Church in Chicago. He told the story of visiting a Sunday School class in another church while on vacation. The teacher of the class asked, “How were people saved in the Old Testament times?”

After a pause, one man said, “They were saved by keeping the Law.” The teacher said, “Yes, that’s exactly right.”

Dr. Ironside interrupted. “My Bible says that by the deeds of the Law shall no flesh be justified.”

The teacher was a bit embarrassed, so he said, “Well, does someone else have an idea?”

Another student in the class said, “They were saved by bringing sacrifices to God.” The teacher said, “Good answer. That’s exactly right.” He then tried to go on with the lesson.

Again Dr. Ironside interrupted. “My Bible says that the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sin.”

By now the unprepared teacher was sure the visitor knew more about the Bible than he did, so he said, “Well then sir, why don’t YOU tell us how people were saved in the Old Testament.”

Dr. Ironside stood to his feet and said, “They were saved by faith — the same way people are saved today.”

Too often, we try and add the works of man to salvation. Instead of fully trusting the Lord, we think that our good deeds will bring God’s blessing. However, my Bible is very clear. We must base our petitions on God’s will and His Word if we ever expect to receive a blessing from God. Twenty-one times in Hebrews 11 alone you find the exact same words — “BY FAITH.”

Charles Spurgeon said, “A little faith will bring your soul to heaven; a great faith will bring heaven to your soul.”

When we place our trust and faith FULLY in God and His plan — we can spend our lives LIVING the truth instead of SEARCHING for the truth!

Have a great day.

Don’t Hide From God

“They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” (Genesis 3:8)

Genesis 3 teaches us some very important lessons about ourselves. I meet a large number of people who don’t believe in the historicity of the Old Testament — especially Genesis 1-11. And yet, I believe that this historical account of the first man and woman tells me where I came from. It tells me what kind of person I am and what kind of person I can be. It teaches me the kind of history God wants to have with me — personally.

The perfect God created a perfect setting for Adam and Eve. They were put into the garden in order to bring glory and pleasure to God — then everything went wrong! Maybe the conversation went something like this…

GOD: Adam, where are you? Why are you hiding from Me?

Adam: Well, Sir, I heard You in the garden, and I was afraid that You would see me. You see, I’m not dressed.

GOD: How did you know that? Who told you? Have you eaten what I told you not to eat?

Adam: Well, it’s kinda like this. Ummmm, it’s not even really my fault. In fact, Sir, I really believe that You bear the majority of the blame in this instance. Do You remember THAT WOMAN You gave me? Well she gave me the fruit and I had to eat it.

GOD: Eve, what have you done?

Eve: Hold up a minute here! I’m not taking the fall for this one! It’s not my fault. The serpent tricked me into doing it.

And on it goes. We are all separated and mad at one another, playing the blame game because we simply don’t want to confess our own sins. The problem that Adam and Eve had is the very same problem you and I have as well.

You see, sin is a matter of trust. You either trust God, or you trust something or someone that God made. Trusting something other than God is rebellion against God. It is denying that god is good, wise, or loving. Sin promises one thing but delivers another. You think sin will make you a better person. We are taught that it will put us on top of the world. And yet, we discover — often too late that sin separates us from God and makes us afraid of God. No longer is God the ultimate friend who walks with you each day. He becomes your enemy coming to punish your sin. And our response? We hide!

Thankfully, God’s history tells us that God seeks those who are lost and separated from Him. While we are trying to hide from Him, He is seeking us out so that we can experience HIs love and forgiveness. Don’t hide from God. Confess your sin and repent. Accept His forgiveness and His love. It’s a free gift!

Nicolas Bardyaev said, “Man’s problem rises from the fact that he has not only lost the way, but he has lost the address.”

Have a great day.

A Living and Holy Sacrifice

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” (Romans 12:1)

I visited the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte several years ago. I saw a letter that was written by a young communist boy to his girlfriend, breaking off their relationship because of his devotion to the communist cause. The letter had been given to Dr. Graham by the girl’s pastor. Graham eventually published the letter in one of his books. Pay close attention to what this young man says.

“We Communists have a high casualty rate. We are the ones who get shot and hung and ridiculed and fired from our jobs and in every other way made as uncomfortable as possible. A certain percentage of us get killed or imprisoned. We live in virtual poverty. We turn back to the party every penny we make above what is absolutely necessary to keep us alive.

We Communists do not have the time or money for many movies or concerts or T-bone steaks or decent homes or new cars. We’ve been described as fanatics. Our lives are dominated by one great, overshadowing factor: the struggle for world Communism. We have a philosophy of life which no amount of money could buy. We have a cause to fight for, a definite purpose in life. We subordinate our petty personal selves into great movement of humanity; and if our person lives seem hard or our egos appear to suffer through subordination to the party, then we are adequately compensated by the thought that each of us, in his small way, is contributing to something new and true and better for mankind.

There is one thing in which I am in dead earnest about, and that is the Communist cause. It is my life, my business, my religion, my hobby, my sweetheart, my wife, my mistress, my bread and meat. I work at it in the daytime and dream of it at night. It’s hold on me grows, not lessens, as time goes on; therefore I cannot carry on a friendship, a love affair, or even a conversation without relating it to this force which both drives and guides my life. I evaluate people, looks, ideas, and actions according to how they affect the Communist cause, and by their attitude toward it. I’ve already been in jail because of my ideals, and if necessary, I’m ready to go before a firing squad.”

When I read that letter, I am certainly saddened that this young man felt that the hope of the world was Communism. But don’t let the fact that he is totally committed to Communism be the thing that speaks to your heart today. While I am saddened at his misplaced allegiance — I am actually envious of his dedication to his cause.

When I think of what Jesus Christ has done for me on the cross, I think of how little I truly surrender to Him. And yet, the Bible says that I am to present even my body to Him as a living sacrifice. Having been redeemed by Christ’s blood and purchased at great cost, I want to present myself to God with full devotion and commitment.

How about you?

“You know Pastor Keith — every once in a while — you write as if we all ought to be fanatical about this Christian life thing. I just don’t think we should do that.”

WHY NOT?

Will you simply stop right now and think about where you would be if it were not for the unconditional love and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

As she often did — Fanny Crosby (1820-1915) found a way to express this idea in a beautiful hymn. She wrote…

Consecrate me now to Thy service, Lord,
By the power of grace divine;
Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope,
And my will be lost in Thine.

Draw me nearer, nearer, blessed Lord,
To the cross where Thou hast died;
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer, blessed Lord,
To Thy precious, bleeding side.

Jim Elliot said, “Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”

Have a great day.

The Glory of Heaven

“But against any of the sons of Israel a dog will not even bark, whether against man or beast, that you may understand how the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.” (Exodus 11:7)

Yesterday, I told you the bad news. The last plague on Egypt taught us some important lessons about the reality of hell.

Today, it’s time for the GOOD NEWS!!! Just as the plague of the death angel brought bad news to some, it brought GOOD NEWS to others. The night of the Passover teaches us about the glory of heaven in several ways.

First, heaven is the COMPLETE OPPOSITE of hell. Exodus 11:7 offers a striking contrast between what was happening with the Egyptians and what was happening with the Israelites. Among the Israelites, this night was a time of perfect tranquility and purity. The Bible says that not even a dog barked.

In the same way, heaven will be the very opposite of hell. Revelation 21:4 says, “and He will wipe away ever tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” My mind can’t even begin to comprehend how glorious heaven will be.

Second, the plague of the death angel teaches us that entrance into heaven will be based not on who you are, but who you KNOW! Exodus 11:7 says that the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. The determining factor then between being an Egyptian or an Israelite was a person’s relationship with the Lord. The same God who made the distinction on the night of Passover makes a distinction today as well. And He makes that distinction using the same criteria as He did on the night of Passover.

In order for the death angel to pass over, blood must be over the door. Today, it is the shed blood of Jesus Christ that determines our fate in the judgment. Hebrews 9:27 says, “It is appointed for men to die once, and after this comes the judgment.” You and I have an appointment. Are you ready? When we stand before the Lord (and we will), the only criteria that will be used to determine our eternal destination will be our relationship to Jesus Christ.

Heaven or hell? The death angel passed over those who were covered by the blood. Judgment will pass over you and me if our sins have been washed by the blood of Jesus Christ. Heaven is a happy place! Someone has rightly said, “A person may go to heaven without wealth, without beauty, without learning, without fame, without culture, without friends. But no one can go to Heaven without Christ!”

Elisha A. Hoffman wrote these words…

Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

When the Bridegroom cometh will your robes be white?
Are you washed int eh blood of the Lamb?
Will your soul be ready for the mansions bright,
And be washed in the blood of the Lamb?

I’m going to heaven! How about you?

The Reality of Hell

“So Moses said, ‘This is what the Lord says, ‘About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn son of the slave girl, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well. There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt — worse than there has ever been or ever will be again. But among the Israelites not a dog will bark at any man or animal.’ Then you will know that the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.” (Exodus 11:4-7)

There are many things that could be written about this last plague against Egypt — not the least of which is the last verse in this text — “Then you will know that the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.” Don’t be misled by those who teach “replacement theology.” God has NOT abandoned Israel and the church does NOT replace Israel in the plan of God. I proudly stand in support of Israel and pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6). 

But that’s not what I want to talk about today. I’m concerned at the number of so-called “evangelical” churches who simply ignore the subject of Hell. Dr. Larry Dixon raised this concern over Christians trying to soft-peddle the reality of hell in an article called “Whatever Happened to Hell.” He says that many people think fear of hell is an outdated and terrible motive for moving one toward Christ. To counter this thought he wrote, “Upon hearing the rattle of a diamondback, who would stand and debate the persuasive power of absolute terror? If running for one’s life makes sense in the presence of a snake, how should we respond to the soul-threatening reality of hell?”

I return to an oft-repeated statement of mine — If you don’t know how bad the bad news is — you will never appreciate how good the Good News is!

The last of the ten plagues which God sent upon Egypt teaches us a few lessons about hell.

Exodus 11:4 gives a clear warning about this last plague. In Exodus 12:29, the Bible confirms the accuracy of that warning. “And it came to pass at midnight that the Lord struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of livestock.”  Pharaoh and the people of Egypt had absolutely NO excuse. They knew what was at stake. They knew the cost of disobedience.

In the same way, hell comes as no surprise. As we proclaim the whole counsel of God’s Word, the warning is given. Nobody in hell will ever be able to say, “I wasn’t informed about this possibility.” The Bible says that hell is the destiny for those whose names are not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Revelation 20:15). We ALL have advance warning!

The last plague also teaches me that hell is no respecter of position. The death angel came to Pharaoh and the slave girl. The death angel did not target people of high position or low position but was looking for those who had been disobedient to the command of God.

When you and I stand before God, being rich or poor will not be the criteria for avoiding hell. Whatever your position in life, the only position that will matter in that day is your position as it relates to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Finally, this plague reminds me that in hell there will be incomparable agony. According to Exodus 11:6, this was the greatest night of pain that Egypt would ever experience. A great cry was heard throughout the land. I can’t even begin to imagine the pain that came across Egypt on that night when death touched every house. Hell is a place of incomparable agony. The New Testament describes it as a place of fire (Rev. 20:14-15), a place of darkness (Matt. 8:12) and a place of maggots (Mark 9:48).

That’s the bad news my friends. BUT hang on! The night of Passover also gives us a wonderful glimpse into the glory of heaven. I’ll examine that tomorrow.

C.S. Lewis said, “The safest road to hell is the gradual one — the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”

Pay attention! Hell is real but so is Heaven. You were not created to populate hell. Confess your sin and repent. Turn to Christ who is the ONLY WAY to be saved. Nobody HAS to go to hell!

More Celebration Please!

“Jesus said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.'” (Mark 2:27)

I come to you today with a serious concern. I’m concerned about the lack of holidays between Labor Day and Thanksgiving. As far as I can tell, there are only two…

Columbus Day (Second Monday in October) — and most people don’t celebrate that one any more. In fact, the politically correct police want to abolish this one all together. 

Veteran’s Day (November 11) — still one of the most important holidays in our nation. We honor all who have served and continue to serve in our Armed Forces. Of course, there are some people who don’t think we should honor these heroes either — but that’s a topic for another day.

There you have it — only two holidays between now and Thanksgiving. I have done a little investigation and hereby propose that we all agree to celebrate the following holidays. These are legitimate holidays so don’t send me mail suggesting that I made them up.

September 12 — Chocolate Milk Shake Day
September 14 — National Cream-Filled Donut Day
September 22 — Elephant Appreciation Day (I have no idea what you do on this day)
September 28 — Ask a Stupid Question Day (I know a lot of people who celebrate this one EVERY DAY)
October 10 — National Angel Food Cake Day
October 14 — National Dessert Day
October 24 — National Bologna Day
October 26 — Mother-In-Law Day (REALLY?)
OK — here’s a little Mother-In-Law joke. (I couldn’t resist) FOR THE RECORD — I have the greatest mother-in-law in the world — but the story is still funny!

A constantly nagged and harried son-in-law decided to buy his mother-in-law a cemetery plot as a birthday present. The next birthday came but this year he didn’t buy her a gift. The mother-in-law was upset and asked the son-in-law why was he had forgotten this time. The angry son-in-law responded, “Well, you still haven’t used the gift I bought you last year!”

November 2 — Deviled Egg Day
November 9 — Chaos Never Dies Day (I thought that was also known as MONDAY)
November 16 — Have a Party with Your Bear Day (Don’t ask…)

Ok — that should get us through to Thanksgiving. I found there are lots of fun days we could celebrate. In fact, with a little more research, I believe I could come up with a day every week for some kind of celebration!

Hey! Wait a minute. We DO have a special day that comes around EVERY WEEK. It’s called SUNDAY — the Lord’s Day. It is set aside for the worship of God and rest for the body. We cheapen and weaken ourselves if we ignore the Lord’s Day. To use it as just another day makes the week more of a burden than man is meant to bear. If you are not regularly in church, find one this week and begin to attend. Become actively involved in the ministry of your local church.

Celebrations make a day special. I pray that my thanksgiving to God will make every Sunday a true day of celebration to God!

Have a great day.

Receiving the Blessings of God

“Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting, because the cloud rested above it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Whenever the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle, the children of Israel would go onward in all their journeys. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not journey till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the Lord was above the tabernacle by day, and fire was over it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.” (Exodus 40:34-38)

This month marks the beginning of my 32nd year in full-time Christian ministry. As I look back on this time, I see clearly the hand of God leading and directing Edna and me along a path He prepared for us. It’s impossible to name the countless volunteers who have assisted us in ministry — for there have been many! I’ve also been blessed to serve with wonderful staff members through those years. I think of Dan Rosser who is now pastor of Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Elijay, Georgia. Dan was a student at SEBTS and served as my youth and music pastor at Cary Baptist Church in Henderson, NC. Or John Lovelace, who continues as Youth Pastor for more than 25 years at Arlington Baptist Church in Knoxville. More recently, I have come to love and appreciate Andrew Barclift who is the children’s pastor at Good Hope Baptist Church in Cary, NC and Chase Synder, associate pastor of students and families at Valley Grove. These young men — and so many others have made a wonderful impact on my life and ministry and I pray I have offered a little guidance and help to them along the way. Thank you to ALL who have served on my staff through the years. I sincerely appreciate you and the call upon your lives.

Throughout the last 31 years, I have always been interested in helping people understand how they can personally experience the blessings of God. One of the great passages of Scripture that gives us wonderful guidance in that area is the story of the Exodus. Moses and the Israelites found out just how important the presence of God truly is. After the people had built the tent of meeting, the presence of the Lord came upon that place in a powerful way. I think this tent of meeting in Exodus is representative of a modern church. So what does a church have to do to experience the power and blessing of God? Let me share three things…

1. Do things God’s Way
What I pray my former staff members learned from me and what I pray I continue to teach the congregations God has given me is this…If you do things God’s Way — you get God’s Blessing.

God gave specific instructions concerning the tabernacle the ark of the covenant, the altar and the sacrifices. When His people received these instructions, they obeyed and did what God told them to do. When we (Christians) are willing to carry out our mission according to God’s instructions, we will receive the blessings of God. Too many church decisions are based on circumstances, society, money and personal tastes. Church decisions should be determined through PRAYER and the study of GOD’S WORD. If we want to be blessed by God, then we must do things God’s way.

2. Give Cheerfully
The Bible says that the people of Israel not only paid to have the tabernacle built and furnished, they gave of themselves and used their God-given talents in order to see the tabernacle become a reality. I think one of the tragedies of the modern church is that we hire someone to do everything. Anything that has to be done in the church, we find somebody to PAY to do it. When we hire somebody to do our work and our ministry, we miss out on the blessing that God has for us. The Bible says that the people of Israel gave to the extent that far more than enough was given and the offering actually had to be stopped!

I have been in church work over 30 years and I can promise you I have NEVER heard of a church telling their people to stop giving because they have given too much! These people were faithful in their giving and they gave out of their love for the Lord. I can’t even begin to imagine the blessings that God would have for our church today if we would simply follow the rule of cheerful giving.

3. Be Willing to GO When God GOES and STAY When God STAYS
The people in Exodus 40 learned an important lesson. You need to be where God is. I have tried to teach and prepare staff members and congregations that we should refuse to go one inch ahead of God or to stay one inch behind God.

What are the keys for staying and going with God? I believe the keys are prayer and solid Biblical preaching. When prayer and Biblical preaching become the priority, God will bless us. Too many people want to go to church in order to get some kind of “feeling.” I think we better start going to church to HEAR A WORD FROM THE LORD! We need to go when He goes and we need to stay when He stays. Rather than trying to get a feeling we better start listening for a word!

I pray if it is His will that God will give me 30+ more years serving Him and I pray that I use every one of those days to teach my staff and my congregation that when we do things God’s way — God will always bless it. Edna and I are living proof that this works.

Have a great day.