Saturday, May 27, 2017

He cares for you...

"But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him." - Luke 22:51
Would you ask a grieving widow who just lost her husband yesterday to drive you to a doctor appointment? Or would you ask someone who just lost their home in a tornado to make an encouraging  nursing home visit? In most cases the answer to both questions would be an emphatic no. Moments of personal pain and sorrow are rarely occasions to show concern for others.
As you read this passage in Luke 22, take time to consider the Lord's emotions and personal trauma. He has been betrayed, turned over to be beaten and crucified, soon to be completely abandoned by His closest friends. And yet, He stops everything to reach out and heal a servant's injured ear. Nothing in His life would deter Him from caring for others.
Have you ever refrained from pouring your heart out to the Lord my friend? Did you think that He might be too busy or that your problem was much too insignificant for His involvement? Learn from this event in the passion of our Lord that there is never a day or hour that He doesn't tremendously care for you and every problem in your life.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Average human beings...

"But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves." - Luke 22:26 
Management Consultant Peter Drucker once wrote, "No institution can possibly survive if it needs geniuses or supermen to manage it. It must be organized in such a way as to be able to get along under a leadership composed of average human beings." While Drucker has been a popular resource and widely read, few C.E.O.s have ever gotten hold of this concept.
Jesus wisely selected "average human beings" to serve in spiritual leadership. He himself gave us a perfect example of what it means to be a "servant leader". This model alone allows for all glory to be given to the Lord. Paul reinforced this principle in 2 Corinthians 4:7, "But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us." 
Are you surprised that God has chosen to use "jars of clay" to serve Him? Have you finally settled on the fact that you will best serve the Lord as an "average human being" my friend? Do you lead through serving, striving to give God all the glory? Remember; It's all about HIM and not about us.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

All things...

"And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, 'Take this, and divide it among yourselves... And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, 'This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.'" - Luke 22:17, 19
We are flooded with ways to find happiness. The path to "good times" is wide and well traveled by more than one can count. When any occasion comes to express gratitude most people focus in on the bounty and blessings of life. Rarely is thanksgiving given for stressful and sorrowful days.
Jesus knew the path that He was taking and the suffering that He was about to experience. The pain would be excruciating and the darkness would be overwhelming. Yet, recognizing the approaching cross, He lifted the cup and bread and gave thanks. Our Lord knew the way to the crown passed through the cross, and He was grateful for both.
What are you grateful for today my friend? Can you only find happiness in sunshine and lollipops? Or have you found joy in Jesus as you experience the "good and the bad and the ugly"? Does your faith identify with God's orchestrating every event in life for your good? Isn't that what we embrace with the words of Romans 8:28? "And we know that for those who love God ALL THINGS work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."  Maybe this was on Paul's mind when he wrote 1 Thessalonians 5:18, "give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Do we care?

"Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.” And he broke down and wept." - Mark 14:72
Emotions greatly differ. Some people rejoice at weddings and others cry, some weep at funerals and others grow quiet, some rejoice at the moment of salvation and others shed tears. No matter how we show emotions, there are moments in life when our souls are touched to the core. The heart that cares is always moved in times of joy or pain and sorrow. The question is: Do we care?
Peter was quite confident that he would never betray his Lord. He followed Jesus to the courtyard and watched as the trial began. He was recognized and in fear he denied the Lord three times, just as Jesus predicted. Peter's emotions were moved at his failure and he wept because he cared.
Does betrayal of the Lord move your heart and emotions? Are you deeply saddened when you sin? Take a closer look at Peter today and then consider your own heart. Have you become so familiar with the process of sin and forgiveness that you no longer feel sorrow when you fail the Lord? We grieve the heart of God whenever we sin (Ephesians 4:30)... Do we care?

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Conviction... AND Courage...

"And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same." - Mark 14:30-31
As the young man spoke words of devotion to his sweetheart he said, "Neither the largest ocean, nor the highest mountain, nor the widest river, nor the deepest valley will ever keep me from being at your side." And with these words of total commitment he concluded... "by the way, I'll be over to see you tonight, IF it doesn't rain". Words are good, but action is where real devotion comes alive.
Peter and all the other disciples spoke with great determination, but when the pressure came, where were they? Jesus knew the heart of everyone, as we read in John 2:25 that He... "needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man." Words of faith take conviction, but steps of faith take courage.
In time the disciples came to know both conviction and courage as they fulfilled the great commission. Do you speak too quickly and make commitments without counting the cost my friend? Remember that at best, we all have feet of clay so, "... be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might." (Ephesians 6:10) In His strength alone will words become action.

Monday, May 22, 2017

A beautiful thing...

"And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that?" -- Mark 14:3-4
I remember listening to Dr. Howard Hendricks read some excerpts from reference forms sent in for prospective students at Dallas Seminary. "This young man is highly gifted in many areas and it's a shame that he is wasting his life on the ministry!" They failed to see the value of doing a "beauty thing" in serving Jesus.
Over the years I have been greatly blessed by such highly gifted men from that seminary. The ministry that we share has been a rich investment and most rewarding. A life that is lived for Jesus will never be a waste. As the story of this woman has been recorded in the Scriptures, her story has marked the lives of more than can be counted. Her honor has only been exceeded by her impact on those who have poured out everything for the sake of Christ. That my friend, is a "beautiful thing".
The words of the martyred missionary Jim Elliot still ring true... "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Actions reflect identity...

"But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, 'I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.'" - Matthew 26:63
The news is constantly filled with current court cases. Crimes of passion, greed, or outright rage have led to horrific ends. Famous, unknown, young or old, the verdict and sentence always centers on guilt for actions, not identity.
At the end of the day, Jesus was found guilty not for what He did but for who He was. The real verdict and sentence was on those that condemned Him. Jesus was innocent of blasphemy and they were guilty of unbelief.
The Son of God went to the cross and rose from the dead to make us new people. Our godly actions come from our godly identity. Give this some thought my friend: at the end of the day, will you be accepted or rejected for what you do, or who you are?