“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’“‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. “Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you." -- Matthew 21:28-31
Saturday, July 31, 2010
I had a friend some years ago that would argue to great lengths to explain why he wouldn't or couldn't do some task requested of him. It was a curiosity though, that on just about every occasion he came around and quietly did the work. On the other hand, there have been a vast number of committee members in every circle of my life that have failed to fulfill their assigned tasks. Which of the two were truly devoted?
Living for the Kingdom of God is far more than saying the right thing. Jesus pointed out that one needs to walk the talk, not just talk the walk. The walk does not provide entrance into the kingdom; it only verifies that one has been truly changed from within by the Spirit of God. Saying you've been changed and showing you've been changed are two different things. Which of the two are truly devoted?
You may have grown up in a church and may know the right lingo. But, has your heart been changed by Jesus? And if your heart is new in Christ, does your obedient walk evidence this fact? Some church goers have passive "religious" ties and some have active "relational" ties. Which of the two are truly devoted?
Friday, July 30, 2010
"As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!" The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!" Jesus stopped and called them. "What do you want me to do for you?" he asked. "Lord," they answered, "we want our sight." Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him." -- Matthew 20:29-34
When I was a little guy, the Ice Cream truck would come around our neighborhood every day during the summer. I would be given money to buy something, but I was told not to yell for the truck; I was to be polite and call out in a normal tone of voice. Needless to say, I missed out on ice cream more often than not. Sometimes you just have to speak a little louder.
Along with all the teachings our Lord gave about prayer, we find a perfect example on this occasion. Two blind men would not give up, nor would they tone it down. They wanted to see and Jesus was able to do the job. They shouted and the crowd was irritated, but the Lord had compassion. He honors those who pray without ceasing and give it all they have. Sometimes you just have to speak a little louder.
Has the ice cream truck passed you by too many times? Do you wonder if your prayer life is what is should be? Pray, and don't give up. Pray, and open you your heart to the full. Keep on asking, seeking and knocking; for the Lord will have compassion when the world would have you give up. Sometimes you just have to speak a little louder.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
"And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first." -- Matthew 19:29-30
During these difficult days of economic tailspin, stories of greed are rampant. We read about officers of large companies that continue to receive rather large annual salaries. In addition, they receive huge bonuses at year end, even though the company is on the verge of bankruptcy. When we ask if they have made great sacrifices and were worthy of such exorbitant remuneration, we are told, "No, but it's in the contract". Will these "first" of today still be "first" in eternity?
Jesus spoke the above words after a provoking exchange with a young man of great wealth who was unwilling to give it up to follow Jesus. The disciples were in question about the life that sacrifices all for the Lord. Does God ultimately honor those who honor him? Jesus made it clear that when we give up temporal pleasures for the kingdom, eternal pleasures will be ours in abundance. The "last" of today will be the "first" in eternity.
God is all about the bigger picture, are you? Wisdom should lead us to focus on eternity and willingly sacrifice for the kingdom of God. The wealth of today will soon be gone, or certainly be left behind as we move on to our eternal future. Though you may be considered "last" in this life, when you follow Jesus with all your heart, you will be "first" in heaven.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
"Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." -- Psalm 73:23-26
How many people languish over the wealth and success of others? They live in a world of "shoulda, coulda, woulda". Envy floods their hearts when they see the lifestyle of the rich and famous and they wonder where they went wrong. Yet, in the face of eternity, all the wealth and success in life will never amount to anything. The greatest eternal value is being personally held in the right hand of God.
This psalm comes from a struggling soul who had great difficulty dealing with the abundance of the wicked. Why live righteously and have nothing to show for such a choice? But, when he looked within the sanctuary and within his soul, the truth came to light. The psalmist was wealthier than any one on earth, since the Lord was his "portion forever".
What drives your life my friend? What do you define as success and what do you value the most? "Stuff" will come and go throughout the years, but when you walk with the Lord, he holds you by his right hand. Step back and take inventory. What is your most precious possession? When the Lord is your portion, earth will have nothing you desire besides him, for he is the strength of your heart. With the Lord, you have wealth and success beyond imagination!
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ -- Matthew 18:32-33
What's the difference between a silk flower and a real one? A lot! Depth and texture are hard to reproduce, but some have come close. Yet, the distinct floral fragrance is just not going to happen. The real deal has a God given scent that most people find quite pleasant. Silk flowers may look nice, but you'll never get out, what hasn't been put in by God.
In the same way, forgiveness is a Christian fragrance. Paul gave instructions to the believers in Ephesus to, "live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." (Ephesians 5:2) God loved us so much that he forgave us for a lifetime of sin. When we face the offense of another, shouldn't we have mercy as the Lord has had on us? This is one significant difference between a religious person and a true believer. The believer has been forgiven in love and exudes a fragrance of loving forgiveness toward others.
Are you a forgiving person? Just as you can't find fragrance in a silk flower, you'll never have a fragrance of forgiveness if you're just religious. But, if you're the real deal, you have been given a scent of loving forgiveness as the Lord forgave you, "while you were still a sinner". (Romans 5:8) If you refuse to forgive, one of two facts are true. You have never been born again as a forgiven child of God, or you are living in sin. Be a flower from God every day my friend and "live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."
Monday, July 26, 2010
"While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”" -- Matthew 17:5
When a presidential inauguration comes about, people travel from miles around to participate and observe. There are a vast number of speakers and the program is filled with inspiring moments. While the entire event is quite an experience, only one person is the ultimate focus... the newly elected president. People from all around the world listen to him.
Peter, James and John were overwhelmed with the appearance of Moses and Elijah with Jesus and they were greatly inspired. Peter suggested they have three booths erected for each important personality. But the heavenly Father responded with clarity... "This is my Son... Listen to Him". Many people make the same mistake today as they see various Bible characters as equally inspiring, yet only one person should be the ultimate focus. Jesus alone is the Son of God, so listen to him!
There may be many books on your shelf today, but only one book has the message of life. There may be many people that bless your life, but only one person is the way, truth and life. At the end of the day my friend, choose to be a person of one book and one person. Heed the voice of your heavenly Father, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
Sunday, July 25, 2010
"An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.”" -- Matthew 16:4
The world is full of skeptics who will never really believe. I remember hearing Apologist Josh McDowell tell of an encounter with a college student after one of his lectures. After a lengthy defense of the faith, the student still had questions. McDowell finally asked, "If I were to answer every one your questions about the claims of Christ, would you be willing to believe?" The young man said without hesitancy, "No, it would demand to great a change in my lifestyle". "An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign".
The Pharisees and Sadducees were always looking for a sign from heaven. Hundreds of years have passed and people are still looking for such signs. While the greatest sign known to man has been shown in the resurrection of Jesus, they still look and doubt. Abraham said in Luke 16:31, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” "An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign".
The truth is; people just don't want to believe. Are you someone who has a legion of questions that keep you from Christ? If all your questions are answered are you willing to believe? Don't look for any other sign than the sign of Jonah. The evidence is clear, "...Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) Stop seeking for some other sign. Seek the Lord and you will be surprised with joy, for he said in Jeremiah 29:13-14, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you”
Saturday, July 24, 2010
“ ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’” -- Matthew 15:8-9
Rules! Ah yes, families, businesses, missions and ministries have all started with heartfelt dreams and great passion. The early days were so simple and quite exciting. But as the years passed rules came into the picture. There were rules to prevent errors, rules to promote success, rules to preserve safety and rules to produce harmony. Over the years the passion was lost and the list of rules became the major goal. The heart was replaced with rules.
The Lord reminded the Pharisees of what they lost and what they had become. They lost their heartfelt desire for God and turned their attention to man-made rules. They spent so much time splitting hairs over the legalism of their teachings, that they lost sight of their love for God and his love for them. The passion was lost and their list of rules was all that was left. The heart was replaced with rules.
While the Bible certainly has rules to live by, man-made rules are a very different story. God's rules are intended to protect us from all that would draw us away from him. They are given to help us grow more in love with him and have a stronger spiritual walk. God's rules are heart strengthening, while men's rules are heartbreaking. May we always remember our first love for the Lord and never allow the rules of men to replace our hearts.
Friday, July 23, 2010
"They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children." -- Matthew 14:20-21
"All You Can Eat" Buffet Restaurants are quite a phenomenon in our country. Many of our church family come from other parts of the world where these just don't exist. Most of the world goes to bed with barely enough food to meet the need. Due to rising unemployment, there are more Americans than ever who go hungry as well. Satisfaction for these people is a real miracle.
True satisfaction is something only the Lord can give. As this event tells us, when God blesses the little, it brings satisfaction. No one really needs an "All You Can Eat" Buffet. But God knows our every need and when we place our lives in his hands he is moved with compassion (vs.14) to provide. The simple truth for all of us is; when we find satisfaction at the end of the day, it's a real miracle.
Are you so influenced by "All You Can Eat" Buffets that "satisfaction" has a new definition? When the world provides there never seems to be enough, but when the Lord provides, we will always be satisfied. While God's provision is miraculous, to be satisfied is even a greater miracle. As the song says, "Only Jesus can satisfy your soul"!
Thursday, July 22, 2010
"A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." -- Proverbs 18:24
Journalist Walter Winchell was once quoted to say, "A friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out." In day to day living, we may have a vast number of companions or acquaintances, but only a friend will walk alongside through the storms of life. True friendship will always provide a "bridge over troubled waters".
While we might recall one or another friend in life, Solomon speaks of a friend who sticks closer than a brother. As the ages passed, there came one who is a friend above all friends. This one said "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13) Joseph Scriven put it this way, "What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!" With Jesus as your friend, you will have the greatest "bridge over troubled waters".
Having given thought to our "friend who sticks closer than a brother", do you stick close to him? Friendship is a two way relationship and Jesus also said, "You are my friends if you do what I command." Do you turn to your friend only when you need him, or do you spend time with him every day and follow his counsel? Friendship needs to be nurtured to grow strong for the storms of life. Take Jesus as your friend, for he is the real "bridge over troubled waters".
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
"Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come." -- Psalm 71:18
At fifty-nine years old I am hearing many of my peers wax eloquent about their retirement plans. Some will be moving to warmer climates, others will be downsizing and still others are just planning on "kicking back" at the old fishing hole. Whatever the plans, only a few will still be passionately focused on ministry. One such old soldier is my father-in-law who is still looking for ways to get the message out at eighty-seven. May his tribe increase!
The Psalmist had a plan for his retirement. He asked that the Lord would not let him grow weak or impaired until he declared God's power to the next generation. Unlike most baby boomers, which are so focused on themselves, this ancient writer yearned for those who came after to know the Lord in all his might. He had a long term goal and it didn't include "kicking back" in this life. This spiritual athlete was determined to run the race, passing the baton until his last breath. May his tribe increase!
What are your retirement plans my friend? When life slows down and your career demands drop off from your calendar, what will you do with your time? The opportunities will be plentiful to become busier than ever in proclaiming God's power to the next generation. If you will take the challenge and make this prayer yours, your joy will be great!
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
"And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith." -- Matthew 13:58
No matter how skilled and well trained a physician may be, if the patient has no faith is him, there can be little accomplished. Without faith the patient will fail to cooperate with the doctor's directions. The resources for healing may be abundant, but when doubt prevails we will remain as sick as ever. You've got to believe.
The need for faith in spiritual matters is even more significant. While the Lord alone brings about the miraculous, he looks for believers. He is the abundant resource of all that we need for spiritual and tangible needs. But are we people of faith or doubt? As we read in James 1:6-7, "But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord" You've got to believe.
How much is the Lord doing in your life today? Are you seeing a powerful work of spiritual growth and dramatic provision day by day? Or are you doubtful that God will do anything in your life? The writer of Hebrews noted the sad outcome of those who lacked faith in 4:2, "...but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith." He is still a God of the miraculous, but to experience his power, you've got to believe.
Monday, July 19, 2010
"He replied to him, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" Pointing to his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother."" -- Matthew 12:48-50
I have a friend in Pennsylvania. He is a brother in the Lord and as much a brother in life as any family member. When we are together we share the events of life, our visits to doctors and other family members. Most of all we share the things of the Lord as he talks about the ministry of his church and I talk about ours. I have other such brothers and sisters in the Lord and our relationship runs far deeper than most parents and siblings. While the latter may be related by "blood", the former are related by "His Blood".
Jesus loved his earthly family without question. As he hung on the cross his thoughts included his mother Mary as he entrusted her care to his disciple John. But apart from this 'family" the Lord highly valued his spiritual family even more. Why? The earthly family is just that; earthly. The family of God is both now and eternal. Our elder brother is Jesus (Hebrews 2:11) and as we love him, so should we love one another.
It's only right to care for your earthly family and spend quality time with them. But, never allow earthly ties to reduce your commitment to those who are your brothers and sisters in "His Blood". Being the family of God is a great privilege and an eternal one. How will you encourage and show love to your spiritual family this week?
Sunday, July 18, 2010
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” -- Matthew 11:28-30
There is nothing I enjoy more than ministry. Preaching is an incredible blessing and fulfillment. The only weariness that comes is a physical exhaustion after a long day or week of service. Within my heart I am rested and at peace. Sleep comes easy and joy comes in the morning. I have found rest in Jesus at the same time I have taken his yoke.
The above comment is my testimony of finding rest in serving the Lord. Jesus offers to all who will come, rest from their worries, guilt, discouragement, bitterness, heartaches and anxieties. He brings peace and purpose that satisfies to everyone who will follow him. The rest Jesus offers isn't cessation from work; it's a new labor of love that fulfills the soul and brings joy to the life. What a privilege to be partners with the Lord as we wear his easy yoke.
Are you following the Lord in your daily life? Have you taken on his yoke, learned from him and found rest for your soul? The invitation has been given and now it's up to you. Rest is not illusive and unattainable; it's a genuine offer to all who will come to Jesus. The promise is his and the privilege is ours... will you come to Jesus today?
Saturday, July 17, 2010
"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." -- Matthew 10:29-30
One of the world's best-known and most abundant small birds is the "House Sparrow". It lives in towns and on farms worldwide, having accompanied Europeans from its original home in Eurasia and northern Africa. Introduced into North America in 1852, it spread across the continent within a century. A little bird, beyond counting, blessed with God's caring.
Jesus spoke of dangerous times of opposition and persecution for the Christian. But there is never a time that the Lord isn't with every believer, just as he is with the sparrow. The time never comes that Jesus doesn't care. We may feel as if we are one among so many, but the Lord watches over every one of his children. He values those who are his.
Do you feel that you are so very small in the works of the kingdom? Or, that your struggles are not to be compared to the needs of others? Remember that a high price was paid and you are greatly valued by your Lord. You may be one among the countless billions, but you are one assured of countless blessings. "So don't be afraid."
Friday, July 16, 2010
"When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." -- Matthew 9:36
Crowds may mean little to you, but wherever I go there are crowds. We live in the metropolitan region of New York City. People are in abundance and they are everywhere. The interesting question is; what goes through the mind when we are surrounded by crowds? Do we see them as a burden, or do we see their burdens?
Jesus was never impersonal or uncaring about the multitudes that followed him. He saw their emptiness and their need for someone to care. He saw their broken and storm ravaged lives and he was moved with compassion. Their need for the Shepherd touched him to the core. To Jesus, they were never a burden; he just saw their burdens with eyes of love.
Are you upset and irritated when you are surrounded by too many people at the mall, on the road or in the grocery store? What do you see with your "born again" transformed eyes? Do you see them as Jesus sees them? Do you see that ... "People need the Lord"?
Thursday, July 15, 2010
"Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”" -- Matthew 8:21-22
Life can become so busy that we lose sight of our priorities. I've been so busy preparing for a trip that I forgot to fill the gas tank. I had a family in our church years ago so preoccupied after church that they left without their daughter. There are some matters that should hold our interest above all else. We need to keep the main thing, the main thing.
Jesus may seem to be quite cruel at this point in his response to this disciple. But, he knew far more about this man than words can express. He knew the heart of the matter and there was something in the picture that was keeping this disciple from the goal. We may have excuses galore that explain why we need to put off spiritual callings. Yet, the Lord knows when we have just lost sight of our priorities.
Have you proposed reasons for putting off the spiritual disciplines and demands of today for another time? Has the Lord called you to a task that you are procrastinating over? Don't lose sight of the goal my friend, and keep the main thing, the main thing!
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
"He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends." -- Proverbs 17:9
I put a screwdriver through my hand years ago. Since the injury was located between the thumb and index finger I was constantly reopening the wound from activity. As a result what should have cleared up in a week or so took months. Reopening a wound always slows down the healing process.
Offended hearts are much the same as wounded hands. Once the offense is dealt with, it needs to be covered over with love and forgiveness. Time will bring the desired healing. On the other hand, if we choose to repeat the incident we reopen the wound and healing will separate close friends.
What good does it do to harp on the wrong done to you? Does it really contribute to healing? Do you feel better after you revisit the situation with your friend or do you feel more grieved? To forgive and forget promotes the love that heals. Value your friendships and whenever you are offended, deal with it and let it go. Time will bring the desired healing.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
"Yet I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, O God. You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, do not delay." -- Psalm 70:5
We live in world that applauds achievement by sweat and blood. The Marines are always looking for "A Few Good Men" and Olympic coaches drive their athletes with "you can do it". The idea is centered on never admitting personal weakness and living strong. For most people it's unacceptable to say "I am poor and needy".
I have always appreciated the writings of David for a number of reasons. One significant aspect of the Psalms is his complete honesty and transparency. David was a strong warrior and powerful King, but he never hesitated to express his need for God's help and deliverance. When he was hurting and in trouble, an open heart cried out, "I am poor and needy".
Do you ever free too proud and independent to acknowledge your need? Have you been led to believe that you can go it alone? Is personal strength enough for the battle? Or are you willing to be honest with yourself and the Lord with a simple prayer... "I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, O God."
Monday, July 12, 2010
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock." -- Matthew 7:24-25
People spend millions of dollars every year attending instructional conferences, workshops and reading numerous handbooks. Their purpose is improvement of skills or life in general. Sadly, there are many whose skills or lives never change. The reason is simple: they fail to put their learning into practice.
Many Christians suffer from the same experience. They study the Scriptures and read any number of books on spiritual growth. They attend conferences and listen to speakers galore but see little to no change in their spiritual lives. The endless cycle only discourages the average believer as they crumble in the midst of every storm that comes their way. The missing element is always the same: they fail to put their learning into practice.
If you hope to have a strong life, built on the rock, practice is required. You can't just know it my friend, you need to do it. We learn how to pray by praying, we learn how to serve by serving, we learn how to trust by trusting, we learn how to love by loving and we learn how to forgive by forgiving. As always, we can only learn by doing. NIKE made the point well years ago in their commercial: "Just Do It".
Sunday, July 11, 2010
"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." -- Matthew 6:21
My parents bought their first and only house in 1961. They chose to have a house built for them in a new housing development. During the months that followed they visited the hole in the ground, the foundation, the shell and the latter days of completion. There were times that they spent more time inspecting the process than anything else. Through the coming years they also spent an abundance of time on upkeep and improvement of their house. Their heart was in that house.
Jesus taught us a great principle as he spoke the above words in their context. Choose your treasure wisely, for your choice will rule your life. The house I mentioned above was sold in 1973 and my parents never looked back. All the hours, days, weeks and years of effort were past with little to show for the future. Houses and other tangible things are temporal at best. They carry no eternal value, but provide a means to better serve God's Kingdom work. The question is... will you serve a thing, or the King? Only one can have your heart.
Choose your treasure wisely my friend. That choice will most definitely rule your time, talents and toil. But, what will it bring you in the end? The idea has been well worded this way: "Only one life twill soon be passed, Only what’s done for Christ will last."
Saturday, July 10, 2010
"Blessed..." -- Matthew 5:3-11
"Happiness is a Choice" is a title for at least two contemporary books; one secular and the other evangelical. The underlying premise is caught in the title, as the eternal pursuit for happiness is ultimately an individual choice. Many people seek happiness by choosing possessions, positions, or achievements as the source. But such happiness is fragile at best and quickly slips away at the slightest change of circumstance. Can anyone find a happiness that runs deep and forever?
Jesus began the "Sermon on the Mount" with the above word repeated nine times. The word can be fairly translated "happy", but in a much deeper sense than we usually understand. As you follow his teaching you come to realize that this word, or experience, is a fruit of spiritual growth. In the sincere choice and consistent pursuit of qualities such as humility, righteousness, mercy, purity, and peacemaking you will find happiness. Yes, happiness is a choice, but more significantly, it is a result.
We spend our lives in the pursuit of the intangible. We want to be happy, but when we arrive, we are most often disappointed. Has this been your experience altogether too often? Take a good close look at the Lord's teaching and finally realize, my friend that happiness comes from a chosen lifestyle. Happiness was never meant to be an end in and of it. Happiness that runs deep and forever is a result... of Godly living.
Friday, July 9, 2010
"Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city." -- Proverbs 16:32
We live in an urban region that produces a wide array of rage. We see road rage, shopping rage, restaurant rage, sport rage and family rage. Call it what you will, this lack of patience is epidemic. Such conduct takes the peace and joy out of simple pleasures. The greatest personal victory and community blessing is found in the exercise of patience.
Solomon knew that conquering the whole world was of little import, compared to conquering the temper. When the temper is controlled, the efforts to succeed are improved exponentially. Patience allows us to wait out the setbacks in life and press on to accomplishment. We will always see life more clearly through the lens of patience.
When you find yourself in a fit of rage, do you ever consider the cost? Do you stop and consider the alternative and its value? Patience is often a choice my friend. By the power of Christ, we can choose to control our temper and show the world the beauty and blessing of patience.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
"Proclaim the power of God, whose majesty is over Israel, whose power is in the skies. You are awesome, O God, in your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people." -- Psalm 68:34-35
While in college, I worked as a security guard. One night I was alone in a small guard booth during a very heavy rainstorm. At one point my attention was drawn to the loud sound of an oncoming freight train. Since we had tracks nearby I gave it little thought until the next morning. I then discovered that a tornado had touched down just beyond our parking lot, right in line with the guard booth. On the night before, I had heard God's power in the skies.
The Fujita Tornado Damage Scale tells us that tornadoes can reach the strength of 318 miles an hour. These are F5 storms and some refer to them as "the finger of God". During touchdowns in populated areas such power will be devastating. But, what happens when a believer experiences the "finger of God" in their heart? God's power in the skies becomes power in their lives.
My friend, why do you say that the task is too great for you? How is it that you retreat in the face of spiritual challenges? Have you not heard? Do you not know? The God of Israel, whose power is in the skies, gives power and strength to his people! "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power." -Ephesians 6:10
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
"As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." At once they left their nets and followed him." -- Matthew 4:18-20
I will always remember Bill Scevior with tremendous gratitude. Bill led me to the Lord. He had been converted himself sometime earlier and was excited about his faith. He looked for every opportunity to tell others about Jesus. One Sunday morning in 1964 he showed me the way to trust Christ as my personal Savior and that day I was born again. Bill was a "fisher of men".
Jesus called the disciples from every walk of life. He gave them a new purpose as they followed him. Their training wasn't focused on religious jargon or theological arguments. The Lord set them apart for a far greater goal in life. They were to reach out to people and lead them Jesus. The disciples were called to be "fishers of men".
No matter what your spiritual gift my friend, the Lord has a greater purpose for every believer. He is in the work of drawing a great catch from the deep. We are called to join him in this effort of bring others to the knowledge of him. The ocean of life is full of souls, floundering around looking for hope and we are sent out to be "fishers of men." ... When was the last time you had a catch?
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
"John's clothes were made of camel's hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River." -- Matthew 3:4-6
I think I have heard the strangest thoughts from pastoral search committees over the years. Here are two; "We can't consider him because ... he's so skinny the wind could blow him over" or "He'll never fit because... he talks like a policeman". Then there was the church that was quite impressed because the pastor under consideration wore a tie to the search committee meeting. Apparently God can only speak through men of proper weight, who speak eloquently and wear ties. What about the hand of God on his servant?
When we sit back and talk about those great TV preachers or make judgment calls on the latest sermon we heard, on what are we focused? The Pharisees and Sadducees were curious, but John knew that they were unwilling to accept him and were critical of his preaching. He didn't dress like them and he wasn't eloquent like them. To these religious elite, this preacher was nothing more than a "country bumpkin". What about the hand of God on his servant?
When God chooses you to speak for him, your dress, looks or smoothness are not the most important issues. When God chooses to speak to you through his servant, none of the above should turn you away either. Ultimately, all that really matters is the hand of God on his servant... is there a Word from the Lord?
Monday, July 5, 2010
"When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written" -- Matthew 2:4-5
Instruction booklets are great when we actually follow their directions. I can't remember how many times I read the booklet, followed my own plan and ended up starting all over again. These booklets were not written for our reading pleasure. Directions are only as good as they are followed.
As a group of foreign dignitaries inquired concerning the birthplace of the Messiah, the answer came quickly. The Biblical Instruction Booklet was immediately opened and the answer was found. The priests and teachers knew where to look for direction, but while others quickly followed, they were satisfied in just knowing. Directions are only as good as they are followed.
What have you learned from your Biblical Instruction Book? Are there steps to take that you have put aside for another time? Have you shared such steps with others, so they might find their way spiritually? Don't just know the Bible... follow its leading as well. Remember, directions are only as good as they are followed!
Sunday, July 4, 2010
"All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"—which means, "God with us."" -- Matthew 1:22-23
Promises, Promises... how often are we given promises that never come to pass? Promises made by our parents, promises made by our friends, promises made by our employers and promises made at the wedding altar are often broken. Over time we become quite cynical about promises and we accept them with a grain of salt. Is there anyone who still fulfills their promises?
The birth of Jesus is the most amazing fulfilled promise in the world. The promise was made time and again, over thousands of years, with considerable detail. God never forgot, and as Paul put it in Galatians 4:4, "... when the time had fully come, God sent his Son". The birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus, among many other things, tell us that... the Lord always fulfills his promises.
Do you think the Lord has forgotten his promises lately? Have you become cynical and doubtful of his keeping his word? Just remember the words of Solomon in Ecclesiastes 3:11, "He has made everything beautiful in its time." The Lord is never late and he never fails to fulfill his promises.
Saturday, July 3, 2010
"If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!" -- Psalm 66:18-20
A few years ago I installed a surround sound system in our living room. I must make it clear that I am not well experienced in wiring audio equipment and things just didn't go very well. I thought that using a staple gun would move things right along, but I failed to understand that the staples would short out the signal. After all the work was done there was the most beautiful silence you can imagine. A little staple in the wrong place can really block sweet music.
In the same way, small things can neutralize our spiritual lives in many ways. We may spend days, months and years building a great spiritual surround sound system in ministry. Everything can be well placed and look just great, but when we seek the Lord's blessing, all we find is silence. What could be the problem you might ask? Well, a little sin can really block sweet music from the Lord.
David knew that, "If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened". Do we have the same conviction? May we be far more careful to maintain an unhindered communication with our Lord? David also prayed another prayer in Psalm 139:23-24 "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Remember, a little sin can block the sweetest music of God's blessing.
Friday, July 2, 2010
"Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed." -- Proverbs 15:22
One of the age old questions throughout life is: "How can I know the will of God?" From the earliest years, the child of God searches for the answer. Books have been written and workshops given beyond number. At times we would just like God to make it simple and write his will on a wall. The search continues for an easy way to discern his leading.
Over the years the insight has been given from every known source; search the Scriptures for principles of wisdom, pray for the Spirit of God to guide and evaluate the providential working of God. One last, but most important resource is to seek the counsel of many advisors. How quickly do we go astray when we fail to seek Godly counsel?
But be careful to seek counsel in the right way my friend. Choose those whose hearts are clearly in tune with God's heart. Find those who give evidence that they are led by the Word of God and his Holy Spirit. Be prepared to accept Godly counsel, even when it might disappoint your expectations. If you seriously desire to know and follow the will of God, he will never fail to "guide you in paths of righteousness for his names sake". (Psalm 23:3)
Thursday, July 1, 2010
"O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water." -- Psalm 63:1
While in high school I worked as a golf caddy every summer. After a long 18 hole trek, the only thought on my mind was a long cool drink of water to quench my thirst. After graduation I flew to San Antonio, Texas for Basic Training in the Air Force. The weather in July was unbearably hot and dry. After a day of training and marching, the only thought on my mind was a long cool drink of water. Nothing else would satisfy.
This is the point of David's thought in Psalm 63:1. He was far from home and found his soul to be dry and weary. The pressures of battle and fleeing from his enemies left him worn and empty. He missed the refreshing days spent in the sanctuary, worshiping and singing praise. The only thought he had day after day was a long cool time with God, his God. Nothing else would satisfy.
Are you empty today my friend? Do you feel like David; dry and thirsty in a land where there is no water? Why seek that which will never quench your thirst? Consider the invitation of Jesus in John 7:37, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink." Take the time to spend a long cool season with God because... Nothing else will satisfy!