Tuesday, February 28, 2017

HIS gain and glory...

"And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. The names of the twelve apostles are these... and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him." - Matthew 10:1-2, 4
Have you ever wondered who your favorite actor or actress truly is in real life? Acting is just that, acting. A good actor can convince the world that they are wonderful or horrifically evil, all in the same year in two different films. They exercise God given abilities and use them for their own gain and glory.
Jesus had a variety of reasons for choosing a man who would later betray Him. But focusing on Judas Iscariot proves to be an interesting study. Here is an individual that was blessed with the incredible privilege of being called by Jesus and equipped with divine power. To the world, Judas appeared to be a true disciple of the Lord and he performed the part quite well. But, he chose to exercise God given abilities for his own gain and glory.
The lesson is sobering my friend. You may have heard the call of God in your life, and been blessed with great skills to serve His church. But without God's saving grace that gives you a new heart, you will only be an actor or actress. You will be exercising your God given abilities for your own gain and glory.
Take care to heed the words of 2 Peter 1:10, "Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure..." Be the real deal and be true to the Lord who saved you by exercising your God given abilities for HIS gain and glory.

Monday, February 27, 2017

He is able!

"When he entered the house, the blind men came to him, and Jesus said to them, 'Do you believe that I am able to do this?' They said to him, 'Yes, Lord.' Then he touched their eyes, saying, 'According to your faith be it done to you.'" - Matthew 9:28-29
As the baseball season draws near to the end of each season, many fans will show up to games with signs that read "You gotta believe". They want to bring a positive and encouraging spirit to their team. The idea is simple; if the team really believes they can win... they will. But, in the end no matter how much they believe, they don't necessarily win.
When the Lord asked the question, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" He was focusing on their faith in Him. You see, belief is only as significant as the One in whom we believe. To successfully jump the hurdles of life, or consistently achieve spiritual victories "You gotta believe". But, your belief needs to be placed in the One who is able.
When you need a win in the big game of life where is your faith my friend? Saying "you gotta believe" will never be enough all by itself. Life changing power can only come from the life giving Savior. You "... can do all things through him who strengthens" you, when you believe that He is able.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Legs or Life?

"For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?" - Matthew 9:5
Among those who practice in the medical field, there are surgeons and therapists. Cardiac surgeons are skilled in heart repair and transplants. The therapists are skilled in physical rehabilitation. Which is easier, helping someone to walk again or giving them a new heart? And which is more important, new legs or a new life?
The initial concern for the paralytic was for him to walk again. This was similar to so many who sought the Lord for temporal provisions. As was the case then, so it is today. Many come to Jesus for physical healing, financial provision, new job or some family turmoil. But rarely do they come to Him for a new life. Most people just settle for physical therapy when they really need a new heart.
Do you really believe that the Lord is able to give you a new beginning my friend? Can He really provide forgiveness for all your sins? If you have only been seeking the Lord for temporal needs, it's time to seek Him for a new heart. After all, which is more important; new legs (i.e. health, job, house, car, mate, etc.), or a new life?

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Our children...

"Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet and implored him earnestly, saying, 'My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.'" - Mark 5:22-23
After a tragic earthquake in Japan a rescue team discovered the lifeless body of a woman bent over as if in prayer. After further investigation they found her 3 month old son, under the protection of her body, alive and unharmed. The following text message was found on a cell phone tucked into the little boy's blanket: "If you survive, you must remember that I love you".  There is no sacrifice too great for the welfare of our children.
Jairus was just such a parent. While he was well known as a prestigious ruler of the local synagogue, he willingly humbled himself before Jesus. He cast aside all selfish concern and earnestly sought the Lord's help. In the face of impending danger or death, there is no better One to seek than Jesus. When our children are at risk, we need nothing less than the Lord's intervention.
Do you know where your children are my dear friend? Are they healthy in soul, as well as in body? While Jairus sought the Lord for the physical welfare of his daughter, her soul was of greater import. Implore the Lord earnestly for your children; that they may be healthy and well... both physically and spiritually! 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Take a vacation...

"And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid." - Mark 5:15
In the comedy "What About Bob", a psychiatrist writes his patient a prescription to "take a vacation from his problems". As a result the patient (Bob) finds an uncommon relief and emotional freedom. For many people such a prescription would be just right, but only if the vacation from their problems was permanent.
In this passage Jesus confronts a demoniac and the legion of demons that possessed the man. With divine authority the Lord sends the demons into a herd of pigs and relieves the man of a horrifying condition. As the crowd arrived they found that this man was now "in his right mind",  "taking a vacation from his problems"And since his deliverance was from Jesus, this vacation was permanent.
Does the idea of taking a vacation from your problems sound good my friend? Maybe you have tried a variety of resources and each one has fallen to pieces. Well, if you really want the kind of relief that will restore your "right mind", then turn to the Lord. Only Jesus can provide you with a "vacation from your problems" permanently.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Got Faith?

"And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”  - Mark 4:39-40
We used to have a very gentle and loving Australian Shepherd. She greeted everyone in the family with a wagging tale and "happy to see you" howl when we come home. But, she had one weakness; she was nervous around fire engines and loud trucks. No matter how often I told her that there was no reason to be afraid, she just couldn't  seem to settle down and be at peace. Apparently, she had little faith in what I said. 
Is it not amazing that the wind and sea responded so quickly at the words of our Lord? Jesus spoke and "the wind ceased, and there was a great calm". Yet, the disciples were completely unable to experience the same peaceful calm in their hearts. This is far too often the case; the words of Jesus were just not enough to calm their nerves. Apparently they had little faith in what He said.
Is this your story as well my friend? Can you recall numerous verses that tell of God's great power and faithful care of His children? And yet, in the face of stormy situations do you find that you are still often afraid? Is it true that no matter how much you know, you just can't settle down and be at peace? Well, maybe you need a little more faith in the One who "makes the clouds his chariot"... and "rides the wings of the wind" (Psalm 104:3). You need to give your fear to the One who says "Peace! Be still" and find your own "great calm".

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Fruit of the Word...

"But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” -- Mark 4:20
The gospel is carried throughout the world every day. As usual, many will reject the message as nothing more than foolishness. Yet, there will be a select few that will receive the truth with great joy. Their lives will be changed and in the years ahead they will produce a wonderful spiritual harvest.
What kind of soil are you today my friend? Has the gospel story fallen upon your heart and produced a great crop of thirty, sixty or even a hundred fold? Or has this message passed from your memory like the morning dew? 
May the good news about Jesus change your life and deliver you from the fruitless pursuit of worldly gain and unending worries! Search the Word everyday for spiritual light and share the Lord with those who still walk in darkness.