Wednesday, December 7, 2016

To Win!

"In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple." - Luke 14:33
Olympic swimmers wear very little when they compete. Their swim suits are designed for speed and competitive edge. They even wear caps to prevent their hair from hindering their progress in the water. They dress with one purpose in mind, to win.
The words found in the latter part of Luke 14 are hard and demanding for anyone who would be a disciple of Christ. Yet, the Lord's concern for those who follow him is to set aside anything that holds them back spiritually. The spiritual life is a demanding race for Christian disciples, and Jesus has one purpose in mind, to win.
Will you read this passage today with an open heart and mind? Will you take inventory of your life in light of Christ's demands? What's holding you back in the spiritual race today? As a disciple of Jesus "let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." (Hebrews 12:1) Take your spiritual life seriously and have one purpose in mind, to win.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

His way...

 "Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come and be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”" - Luke 13:14
"Revival Here - Every Friday Night"! When you've seen such signs, what comes to mind? Do we really think the God of all creation will ever be tied to our schedules? We look for the Lord to do great things, but only on certain days and in specific ways. What makes us believe that God can be put in a box? God works miracles every day, not just Fridays... his way, not ours.
This synagogue ruler was driven by a misguided commitment to God's Sabbatical commandment. He was a strong believer in man-made additions to the Word of God. As a result, his expectations of God were terribly limited. He concluded that God would only do the miraculous six days a week. The irony of the story comes when this man sees a mighty, supernatural work of God before his very eyes, but is unmoved. By putting God in a box, he lost sight of the fact that God works miracles every day, not just six... his way, not ours.
Is your life so tightly scheduled that God has been given an appointment? In contrast to this synagogue ruler, do you expect revival only on Sundays? Will you allow God to do great things in your life, anytime and in any way? Look to Jesus today my friend; he's doing great and mighty things, because he works miracles every day, not just Sundays... his way, not ours.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Rest in Him

"Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? “Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!" - Luke 12:25-28
Over the years I have been put to sleep during minor surgical procedures. Prior to these events I would have various thoughts about the process as well as the outcome. Will everything go alright? Will they discover anything serious? The next day I realized that all my concern amounted to nothing and was of no help to the physician. I probably should have been put to sleep long before the surgery so I wouldn't worry. Just as the surgeon can do his best when we rest in his hands, the Lord does his best when we rest in him.
Occasionally Jesus shows us the silliness of our ways. How silly to worry about anything. Worry has never added or subtracted from the events of life. God is in control and he cares for his own with great precision and compassion. As the psalmist reminds us in Psalm 147:11, "the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love". God's "unfailing love" is his spiritual anesthesia for us in the midst of life's surgeries. When you know his love you will rest in him.
Lay your heart on the pillow of God's love today and let him do what he does best. When the anxiety rises within, remember how much more the Lord cares for you than the lilies and rest in him.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Shine in the Darkness!

“No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead he puts it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be completely lighted, as when the light of a lamp shines on you.” - Luke 11:33-36
One year we traveled north for the holidays, through a heavy snow storm. Since our trip was made at night, every now and then we had to stop to clean the snow and ice off the headlights. Within a few miles the lights were once again reduced to a very dim condition. We had power and we had bulbs but we had little light.
In the same way, when we travel through the storms of life we need good eyes. We need eyes that provide the body with light so we can shine in the darkness and not be filled with darkness. The light of Jesus brings us all the light we could ever need. The more we learn from the Lord the more light shines within. But, while we can have the availability of light, if we don't focus our eyes on Jesus, we have little light.
Simply put, the more time you spend with Jesus, the more light you will have. Do you want to shine for the Lord my friend? Remember that you can only shine with the light that he gives. It's what you choose to read and watch that really makes your eyes good. If you take in too much "snow" your eyes and life will be dim. But if you take in the Word and things that are worthy, your eyes will be good. Your whole life will shine in the darkness for Jesus, because you have great light.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Expositor or Example?

"Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples." - Luke 11:1
Someone has wisely said, "More is caught than taught". Over the years I have had some great teachers and professors. While their knowledge has been overwhelming, there were a select few that surpassed all the others. The difference is found in two words... expositor and example. One explains the truth and the other exemplifies the truth. Which one is most successful?
The Pharisees were expositors and explained the truth quite well. Jesus was far more than an expositor; He was a vivid example of  life changing truth. The disciples knew that John taught his disciples to pray, but not until they observed Jesus praying did they request such knowledge. They wanted more than just a lesson about prayer, they wanted lives of prayer.
What kind of spiritual life do you lead my friend? Are you someone who explains truth or one who exemplifies truth? When others are with you, do they yearn to learn about Jesus or live like Jesus? Just about anyone can be an expositor, but only a few can be examples. Which will you choose to be today?

Friday, December 2, 2016

Stress Relief

"But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” - Luke 10:41-42

According to the Mayo Clinic staff, "stress symptoms may be affecting your health, even though you might not realize it. You may think illness is to blame for that nagging headache, your frequent insomnia or your decreased productivity at work. But stress may actually be the culprit. Indeed, stress symptoms can affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, and your behavior." Being "anxious and troubled about many things" is an age-old problem.
We have been told that our stress could be reduced if we would "stop and smell and the roses". This is good counsel to a point, but roses can only go so far in soothing the troubled soul. The bottom line is this: the greatest stress relief is found when we "spend a little time with Jesus". When we sit at His feet and listen to His teaching everything comes into perspective.
Having a "quiet time" every day is not just a commendable religious exercise. Just as the phrase suggests, it should be a "quiet time" at the feet of Jesus. How is your "quiet time" these days my friend? Do you regularly leave your anxiety and troubles with the Lord and take in His soothing and uplifting Words for each day? Take a lesson from Mary and choose "the good portion".

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." 
~ Matthew 11:28   

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Plan for the Unplanned

"When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing." - Luke 9:10-11
Plans, plans, plans! Day by day we plan the hours to the minute. We live by tight schedules that will be the most productive and get the job done. Plans keep us focused, plans keep us busy, and plans bring us success. Sadly, too often plans become the goal, an end in and of themselves. The question is... "Do our plans allow room for the unplanned?"
Jesus planned to debrief the disciples and further mentor them alone, in a restful place. But the crowds came and he "welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God".  Most often, the unplanned turns out to be people. Jesus always made time for the unplanned and welcomed the providential occasion with open arms. Because he loved people, "His plans allowed room for the unplanned".
What's your plan for today? Will you get it all done the way you want? Are you focused with the intensity of an Olympic athlete? Or are you prepared for the unexpected intrusion of people who need the Lord? Are you willing to make time for those who didn't make an appointment? The question is... "Do your plans allow room for the unplanned?"