Saturday, January 20, 2018

Celebrate the moment...

" 'But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ ”  - Luke 15:32
Birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, weddings, retirements... and the list of reasons to celebrate can continue. We are ready to celebrate over almost anything that comes along. Our family will celebrate the day before, on the day and the day after, just to be certain that we did it right. Over time we just celebrate to celebrate and the reasons grow less and less. Have we lost the sense of what's really important and worthy of celebration? In the words of a popular film Hitch"Life is not the amount of breaths you take, it's the moments that take your breath away."
Jesus tells a story that contrasts all the achievements and values of life with one great moment. That moment is the redemption of a lost soul. The father doesn't give a stern reproof or wisdom for future temptations on that day. He rejoices and leads the entire family in a huge time of celebration. His son was dead and is alive again. Every time I read "...he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him" (vs. 20), I am deeply moved. You see, the return of a soul to our Heavenly Father is worth celebrating because... it's a moment that takes your breath away!
The question I have for you today is: what have you celebrated of spiritual worth lately? When that little child or older neighbor trusted Christ last month, did you celebrate their new birth? Do we teach our children that moments of spiritual change and growth are tremendous occasions of joy? Consider a father, filled with compassion, embracing his wayward son, and remember... "Life is not the amount of breaths you take, it's the moments that take your breath away."

Friday, January 19, 2018

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.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

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; he's doing great and mighty things, because he works miracles every day, not just Sundays... his way, not ours.  

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

To protect and guard...

"Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you." - Proverbs 2:11
Sometimes I have to wear a leg brace. This contraption slips over my knee and has two steel bars on either side. Putting it on can be rather difficult at times, but when it's worn, my knee joint is fully protected from slipping side to side. It keeps my knee from suffering damage when weak and helps in the healing process when injured. It looks clunky but it does the job as it... protects and guards.
This entire proverb speaks of a brace for the spiritual and moral life. To obtain wisdom one has to work at putting it into the heart. But once wisdom enters the heart you will understand  "what is right and just and fair—every good path." (vs. 9) Wisdom will save you from slipping from "straight paths" to walk in "dark ways". (vs. 13) Wisdom from the Lord has two steel bars named discretion and understanding that will... protect and guard.
Wisdom will not be acquired all in one day. It will only come from the hard work of time spent in God's Word. Will you make time today, tomorrow and the next day to value God's wisdom and store it up in your heart like a priceless treasure? If you will, it will save you from moral failure and will lead you into paths of life, because it will... protect and guard.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

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 the procedure I had 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 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.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Great light...

“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 today? 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.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The good portion...

"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