Friday, January 30, 2015

Complex or Simple... your choice

"Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”" - Luke 23:42-43
In 1969 I worked in a computer office with a system that filled the room. It was complex and huge. Today, you can have more computer capacity in their pocket than in that room, in the form of a smart phone. Technology has come a long way to simplify things for the end user. Religion on the other hand has complicated matters of the soul continually throughout the centuries. Getting to heaven has become a real complex trip.
In the last hour of our Lord's earthly life he encountered a repentant criminal. In this exchange we discover the truth about forgiveness and eternity. The simplicity of "touching" Christ with a heart of faith opened the world of heaven without complexity. As a result of trusting Jesus, this man was transported to glory that day, and not a moment later. Getting to heaven was a real simple trip.
Walking with God in this life and into the next life has always been quite simple. Adding to the picture just makes things more confusing and less achievable. Jesus said, the life of faith is easy to live and small enough to carry anywhere; "For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:30) and at the end of the journey... getting to heaven will be a real quick trip.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Look

"Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly." - Luke 22:60-62 

When I was a little guy, life was pretty simple. I knew all was well, or not, by the look in my mother's eyes. If I was behaving as I should, her look was pleasant and assured me that all was well. But if I was getting into mischief, mom could look across a crowded room and I knew I was in trouble. I never wanted to see "the look".
On most days, Peter enjoyed pleasant looks from Jesus, as they walked and talked along the road. But this was not one of those days. Peter had been so sure of himself, and then he denied the Lord, not just once, but three times. Fear and doubt had gotten the best of him and he distanced himself from the Lord. But the distance was not enough to escape "the look". 
I believe the look Peter received that day was one of disappointment. When we disobey the Lord, Paul says we grieve his Spirit. (Ephesians 4:30) Simply put, when we fail the Lord... we break his heart. As you turn to the Lord today, will you be met with a look that is pleasant and assures you that all is well? Or will you sense the Lord's disappointment as you're met with "the look"

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Be prepared

“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.” - Luke 21:34-36

I always had fun with my Dad. He was one of those guys that would let life so preoccupy him that he walked around in his own world. How could I pass up the opportunities to jump out of his closet or from behind a bush in the garden and scare the daylights out of him? Thankfully, he would just laugh it off and drift back into his world of thought. Dad was always unprepared for the unexpected.
The Lord will come for his Church and then after a time of world-wide judgment he will return to set up his kingdom. Both occasions will occur unexpectedly for most. When people become preoccupied with the pleasures and anxieties of life, they tend to drift into their own little world. Thoughts of the Lord's coming slip away and they're unprepared for the unexpected.
In truth, the Lord's return is expected. The time of his coming is unknown, therefore unexpected. Are you living in light of his return? Or have you allowed the pursuits of this life to lead you into your own little world? Even a believer can drift and be embarrassed when the Lord returns. "Be always on the watch" and pray for the daily strength to be prepared for the unexpected.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sure and secure

""When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD is on his heavenly throne. He observes the sons of men; his eyes examine them." - Psalm 11:3-4

When I attended college, I lived in a college owned apartment for a year. It was old and scheduled to be demolished. When you stood across the street, you could see the two ends of the building sag down like the leaning tower of Pisa. Yet, we never lived in fear because we were assured that the building was safe. The foundation was weak, but the word of the college was sure and secure.
David knew that although the foundations in life may be destroyed, the LORD is on his throne. The enemies may be many, but the LORD watches over the righteous. He sits on his throne observing our every step, ready to redeem and strong to save. Life may shift and sag like a leaning tower, but the throne of God remains sure and secure.
Are your foundations cracking and shifting beneath you? Do you feel unsettled in the constant changes of life? Then turn to the throne in heaven and be encouraged with this invitation...  "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (Hebrews 4:16) Your foundations may be weak, but the foundations of heaven are sure and secure.

Monday, January 26, 2015

All are alive

"But in the account of the bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” - Luke 20:37-38

While speaking at a funeral service for a deceased deacon, the preacher wanted to emphasize the departure of the soul from the body. He said, "Only the shell remains, but the nut is gone". He meant one thing, but said something else as well. Life after death is a timeless truth found throughout the Bible. It is stated overtly by Jesus and subtly by Moses, but either way, to God... all are alive.
There will be a resurrection and Jesus spoke of this coming event regularly. Some have said that this doctrine is strictly found in the New Testament. But what we find in this passage is a clear reference by Jesus to the Old Testament belief in this truth. Moses meant one thing, but he said something else as well. We believe in the God of the living, and to him... all are alive.
There are two thoughts to consider today. Every soul will exist eternally. The question is; will you live eternally in heaven with Jesus, or will you live eternally in hell alone? The choice is yours to make, but only in this life. The second thought concerns your loved one who knew the Lord and has stepped into eternity ahead of you. You may be assured and comforted in the words of Paul in Philippians 1:23, "I desire to depart and be with Christ". Yes, they are with the Lord, because to him... all are alive. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Love them like Jesus

"As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it"  -  Luke 19:41 

In 1998 I moved from Williamsport, PA, a city of 31,000 to a bedroom community of New York City, which is the home of over 8 million people. There are over 20 million people living in the Metropolitan region. The adjustment to so many people in one small area was quite a challenge. Each time I cross the bridge and look at the city, I see buildings that house the masses. I see traffic congestion and streets crowded with a vast multitude. But then, I come to a traffic light and I see the faces and I'm reminded that the city is people... and people need the Lord.
Watch the Lord as he approaches the city of Jerusalem. While others were rejoicing and praising the Lord, Jesus saw the city, and he wept over it. Think about the Lord of Glory, the Creator of the universe, the Ruler of nations, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords weeping over a city. In a city of rebellious and hard-hearted people who would hang him on a cross, Jesus saw lost people. If we will look at the city through the eyes of Jesus, we will see people and we too should weep because... people need the Lord.
Whether your city is small or large, it's filled with people. They are not there to make your life miserable; they are people in need,  just like you. Pray that you might see the city through the eyes of compassion and love them like Jesus.  --  Here's a song by Mike Otto to consider today:

"LOOKING THROUGH YOUR EYES"

"Let me see this world, dear Lord,
as though I were looking through your eyes.
A world of men who don't want you, Lord,
but a world for which you died.
Let me kneel with you in the garden.
Blur my eyes with tears of agony.

For if once, I could see this world the way you see,
I just know I'd serve you more faithfully".

Let me see this world, dear Lord,
through Your eyes when men mock your Holy Name.
When they beat You and spat upon You, Lord,
Let me love them as You loved them just the same.
Let me stand high above my petty problems,
And grieve for men, hell-bound eternally:

For if once I could see this world the way You see
I just know I'd serve you more faithfully.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Dinner is served!

"Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up... Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”... Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.”" - Luke 18:1, 39, 42 

Have you ever been turned away by a restaurant hostess because you didn't have a reservation? It can be embarrassing when you made plans and expected to be seated. It's even more embarrassing when someone without reservations harasses the hostess to be seated. People are unsettled and just want the trouble makers to leave. But what if you know the owner and he has invited you to his restaurant? Dinner is served!
At the outset of this chapter Jesus taught the disciples to pray and not give up. Toward the end of the passage we find just such a man who prayed and would not give up. Yet, people felt unsettled and they just wanted the trouble maker to be quiet. The blind man still showed persistent faith and he was blessed with healing. He bypassed the hostess and came to the owner and dinner was served! 
Jesus taught us to pray without ceasing and as we do, he welcomes our faith. Remember, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” (vs. 27) Don't be turned away by those who have weak faith and doubting hearts. Since you know the owner and you have been invited, just ask... and dinner is served!