"When I said, "My foot is slipping," your love, O LORD, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul." -- Psalm 94:18-19
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
In two weeks I will be having knee surgery. Until then I find myself leaning a lot. I lean when I get up from my desk, when I go up and down stairs and other times through the day. Leaning is fine when I have the right support. A strong support is a good thing.
The psalmist knew that in the midst of opposition and oppression he needed support. He learned to lean on the love of the Lord. With such a support he also found joy for his soul. His foot would refrain from slipping, and his anxiety would slip away. A strong support is a good thing.
Are you so independent that you don't need to lean? Or have you found the support of others undependable? Well, let the Lord's love and consolation be your support today and find joy for your soul as you lean on his strong support.
Monday, August 30, 2010
"The seas have lifted up, O LORD, the seas have lifted up their voice; the seas have lifted up their pounding waves. Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea— the LORD on high is mighty." -- Psalm 93:3-4
Today we will be heading across the Long Island Sound by ferry and continuing to Cape Cod to visit family. Our plans to return may change due to an approaching hurricane coming up the coast. The power of the waves during a storm are quite sobering for any traveler. While a ship may rise and fall with the pounding, there is One greater in power that remains unmoved.
No matter where we may find ourselves in life, the waves of the ocean or the waves of distress and troublesome storms will often lift their voice. The Psalmist is secure in the fact that the Lord reigns and he is mighty. He could choose to be frightened in the face of turmoil or be at peace in the knowledge that the Lord is armed with strength. His choice is clear... Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea— the LORD on high is mighty!
How will you travel today? Will you be secure and at peace, or will the waves of life overwhelm you? When Peter kept his eyes on the Lord... He walked on the troubled waters (Matthew 14:29) Keep your eyes on the One who is mightier than the breakers of the sea and be at peace!
Sunday, August 29, 2010
"For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen." -- Romans 11:36
Aristotle embraced the geocentric model, believing the earth to be the center of the universe. In 1543 Copernicus proposed a new paradigm placing the sun in the center. Over the years I have met some rather unusual individuals that dogmatically believe that they themselves are in fact the center of the universe. Could they all be wrong?
Paul has taken the Roman believers from the answer for mankind's lost condition to the divine elective plan for Israel. When all the detail and design is thoroughly revealed the reader can see that all the glory belongs to the Lord of creation. The whole universe comes together with beautiful symmetry when we acknowledge God as the true Center. Paul alone was right.
The best day is the one that begins with this truth: "For from him and through him and to him are all things." Every day continues to grow better and make more sense when, the Lord is given all the glory. Life is never about us... it's ALL about Him!
Saturday, August 28, 2010
"For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes." -- Romans 10:2-4
The pilot announced, "I have good news and bad news; the good news is, we're making great time and the bad news is, we're lost." Yes, it's an old worn out joke, but it readily applies in this case. Zeal and progress may be tremendous, but when the knowledge is lacking and the direction is wrong, all is lost.
Religion may seem to be just right, but if it isn't true to Scripture then people will suffer, both now and eternally. Paul wrote about his nation and the incredible zeal they had for God. Their relationship was solely built on a righteousness of their own without submitting to God's righteousness. For these "religious" people, there was no place for Christ, the end of the law.
Too many people are under the persuasion that they "know" all there is about the Bible and religion. Their zeal is unfounded and misdirected as a result. The reason to read the Scriptures is to find truth and find our way to God. While Paul wrote in verse 13, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”, he also wrote in verse 17, "Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ." Don't be in such a hurry that you lose your way. Stop and read the Word and be zealous for what is true.
Friday, August 27, 2010
"I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit— I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race..." -- Romans 9:1-3
I attended an ordination service for a good friend some years ago. He was being ordained to the Gospel ministry with a focus on inner city mission work. His brother spoke of growing up near the city and making many visits as a family. One thing he remembered about my friend was the way he wept over the homeless and downtrodden of the city. To this day my friend has unceasing anguish in his heart for the city. He has selfless compassion.
Sincere ministry should be passionate. The passion comes from deep within and motivates us as Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:14, "For Christ’s love compels us..." In the above passage he is also moved by the lost condition of his brothers and he has a passion for their salvation. His passion is so strong that he is willing to be cut off from Christ for the sake of his brothers. He had selfless compassion.
Jesus gave his life for the salvation of the lost, what are we willing to give? Do we love the Lord and the lost enough to be passionate about their salvation? May we pray for the passion of Paul as we look to the fields that are white unto harvest? Sincere ministry needs selfless compassion.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
"Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God." -- Psalm 90:1-2
While growing up our family lived in six different places. Since high school I have lived in nine different locations. Some of those living quarters are no longer standing and some have drastically changed. One might fairly ask, "Where is my dwelling place?"
Moses shared a similar experience. He moved all over the Middle East during his lifetime. He lived in the Pharaoh's court as well as in a tent. After the Exodus he moved more times than anyone could count. But, Moses was always secure and settled because the Lord was always his "dwelling place".
It doesn't matter how many times you've moved or how much change has been experienced, my friend. Your God who has been the same from before the mountains were born. From age to age and from place to place, you can be secure and settled in life, when the Lord is your "dwelling place".
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
"It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel." -- Proverbs 20:3
We learn to debate in high school and watch heated exchanges every day on the news. Quarreling seems to be a natural part of our society. Yet, what is actually accomplished from these rapid-fire, disrespectful and self-righteous diatribes? After all is said and done, there is no honor in a quarrel.
As Solomon wisely writes, to avoid strife is an honorable effort. Jesus spoke of peacemakers being blessed ones in Matthew 5:9 and the writer of Hebrews wrote in 12:14, "Make every effort to live in peace with all men..." Being quick to quarrel is a foolish pursuit with little gain.
To be an honorable disciple of Christ is to follow in his steps of gentleness and patience. In the words of Paul in 2 Timothy 2:24, "... the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful." It is far wiser to avoid strife and affirm peace.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
"I will sing of the LORD's great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations. I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you established your faithfulness in heaven itself." -- Psalm 89:1-2
As I stand with a bride and groom and lead them in their vows, we eventually come to the phrase "I pledge you my faithfulness". Yet, the divorce rate for evangelical Christians runs from 34% to 54% depending on the frequency of church attendance. So much for marriage vows! Is "faithfulness" even possible?
The psalmist found great comfort and encouragement in the "faithfulness" of God. He devoted himself to "...sing of the LORD's great love forever" and make his "faithfulness known through all generations." Unfaithfulness in human relationships is timeless, but God's faithful love stands firm forever, being established in heaven itself. Those who turn to the Lord daily and weekly will find true faithfulness from above and within. Yes, "faithfulness" is possible.
A faithful life is rooted in a faithful Lord. You can't be faithful to someone else if you don't know faithfulness in your own life. But, once you've experienced God's faithfulness it will change you and you will want to live it and make it known to new generations. Yes, "faithfulness" is possible.
Monday, August 23, 2010
"Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." -- Romans 8:17-18
Through the last two hundred years the majority of British monarchs have served in the military. Their service stretched from the American Revolution through World War Two. While they were officers, they were still involved in war, and the way to the throne was not easy. But, because they were heirs, the glory was theirs.
As children of the King of Kings, believers will share in his glory. Our path will lead us through the battles of spiritual warfare and the way may not be easy. As soldiers of the cross, we are called upon to serve our King with faithfulness in the darkest days of suffering. Yet, because we are heirs, the glory will be ours.
Just because you are a co-heir with Christ, doesn't mean the road to heaven will be paved with gold. The battles will be tough and the hardships many. But, remember my friend, "that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us". So, because we are heirs, the glory will ours.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
"So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God." -- Romans 7:4
A florist delivers flowers because of his job. A husband delivers flowers because of his love. The one fulfills his task out of obligation and the other out of devotion. Now, when the florist gives flowers to his wife his obligation ceases and his romance begins. The difference is a relationship.
The law was given to reveal the inability of man to fulfill his obligation to God. It was never meant to save his soul or enable him to bear spiritual fruit. In Christ we not only died to sin, but we also died to the law. Now we belong to the One who rose from the dead in order that we might bear fruit to God. The obligation has ceased and the romance has begun. The difference is a relationship.
Why do you strive to live a Godly life my friend? Is it because of legal expectations? This train left the station at Calvary and you now belong to Jesus with a loving devotion. Take him flowers of romance, not of obligation. Jesus said in John 14:15, "If you love me, you will obey what I command."
Saturday, August 21, 2010
"What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?" -- Romans 6:1-2
In his book on Elephants, Gavin de Becker tells how young Elephants are held to a stake by strong chains until they no longer struggle. After a few months, the huge beast can be held in place by a slender rope. The animal is free to run, but the memory of strong resistance keeps him in place. The chains are gone, but the conduct is unchanged.
While such Elephant training may be a good thing for the sake of safety, the chains of sin have been removed with greater expectations. Paul reminds believers that we have died to sin and its power no longer holds us as slaves. Since we are united with Christ we may now live a new life in his resurrection power. Our chains are gone, so we our conduct should change.
Could it be true that believers still live in sin, making grace increase? Is it possible that while we have died with Christ, we don't live with him? The chains are broken and it's up to us to "count ourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus" (vs.11). Don't be like a well trained Elephant, held down to sinful living by a slender rope. The chains have been broken and you've been set free. Live for God and reap the benefits!!
Friday, August 20, 2010
"Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." -- Romans 5:3-4
The promises and hope of a new career can be easily dashed when challenges and struggles enter the picture. For some the job is dumped and an easier path is chosen. But others will stay the course and grow through the hardships and become successful. It's all about an inner drive.
For the believer there is great joy in knowing that they have peace with God and are forgiven. But when sufferings come, and they will, how should they respond? They not only press on, but they rejoice in their sufferings finding spiritual qualities growing in their lives. All this is possible only through an inner drive... the Holy Spirit.
Before you give up the fight my friend, remember that God has poured out his love into your heart. He who has begun a good work in your life will never give up. So stay the course and press on, because you have an everlasting inner drive that will never leave you... the Holy Spirit.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
"Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised." -- Romans 4:20-21
Millions of dollars are spent every year with one purpose in mind: persuasion. Efforts are made to persuade us to trust insurance companies, investment firms, law firms, security providers and health providers. Trust them and they will see you through any and every dilemma that may come your way. But, do they have the power to do what they promise?
Promises of an incredible nature were made to Abraham. To the human mind they were impossible, but Abraham believed God, and "it was credited to him as righteousness." Just as Abraham did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, we too should be persuaded. Why? God has the power to do what he promises!
My friend, the Lord has promised the gift of new life to all who will believe. It seems impossible that anyone can begin again and have a totally changed life and heaven to boot, but it's true. This is God's promise to keep and ours to believe. We never need to fear or doubt; no matter how dark the days may become. God paid the highest price in history to persuade us of his power. Jesus "was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification". Be persuaded my friend... Be persuaded and live!!
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
"Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name." -- Psalm 86:11
Some of the most notorious criminals in history have been "double agent" spies. They spy for two countries but they are loyal to neither one. These people play two ends to the middle and ultimately do more harm than good. They have divided hearts.
The psalmist asked to be taught the ways of the Lord so he would walk in God's truth. Yet, he knew that knowledge is only as good as the hearts devotion. As a spy has more than knowledge than most, if the heart is divided, the value of that knowledge is lost. Therefore, psalmist prayed for an "undivided heart".
To whom do you devote your heart my friend? Jesus taught that you can't serve two masters (Matthew 6:24) and James noted that your prayers should be made without doubt (James 1:6). As much as you desire to walk in the ways of the Lord, don't forget your heart, for it's the wellspring of life (Proverbs 4:23).
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
"Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion." -- Psalm 84:5-7
For a number of years my family would take annual trips from Queens, NY to Parsons, Kansas for a visit to see my Grandmother and Uncle. The car trip took us three days and in the 1950s it was quite tiring, but we always looked forward to spending time with family and friends. Long as the trip was, my parents had a way of brightening the time for a young boy. We had special stops everyday that were both refreshing and lots of fun. Each one renewed our energy for the trip.
As the trip was long and tiring for spiritual pilgrims in the days of Old Testament, their desire to worship God in his sanctuary kept them energized. In addition, their faith would bring renewed strength along the way, turning the driest valley into pools of cool water. Our journey toward heaven is much the same. We're looking forward to seeing Jesus with great expectation and it drives us onward through the darkest day. He is our strength and we find that strength renewed again and again all along the road to heaven. John wrote in John 1:16,"From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another."
Those visits to my Grandmother's home always bring pleasant memories. They also remind me that every good trip has a joyful destination and energizing stops along the way. If you're on your way to heaven today, keep that destination in mind as you travel and know that your loving heavenly Father will always provide those needed moments when you will go from "strength to strength" in Him.
Monday, August 16, 2010
"...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood..." -- Romans 3:23-25
Guilt is real. But what has be done to remedy this great weight upon our hearts? Throughout the years psychological pursuits and various forms of religious efforts have been made to set us free from the burden. Yet, guilt continues to lay upon every soul around the globe for "all have sinned" and there is only one cure.
Paul presented a very thorough case of universal guilt of the religious and irreligious. Down deep within every heart there is great guilt that cannot be relieved. To be justified and forgiven a price of redemption had to be paid that was quite specific. That price to clear our guilt was the shed blood of Jesus. This alone is the only cure.
As the old green stamp "redemption center" was a place to find all kinds of treasures, the "redemption center" of the cross of Christ is a place to find the greatest treasure. We no longer need to carry our guilt through life. Forgiveness has been paid for and can be ours "through faith in his blood." That is our only cure.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
"You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things." -- Romans 2:1
Over the years I have met a vast number of people who claim one major reason for not attending church. They believe that there are too many hypocrites in the church. The sad truth is; there are and always have been hypocrites in the church. As a matter of fact, our world is full of hypocrites. These are people who criticize others for doing the same things that they do. We are all hypocrites to some degree and we need God's mercy.
Paul addressed the "unchurched" and the "churched" in chapter one and two. In the above verse he speaks to those who think themselves to be without fault. But, he reminds them that God judges us all according to truth and every man needs the Lord's kindness that leads to repentance. Before we pass judgment on others, we ought to look in the mirror and seek God's mercy.
Our human nature will always be prone to see others as sinners and ourselves as righteous. But, let's be honest and take a closer look. We're all in the same boat and we need God's patient forgiveness. The next time you criticize someone, look in the mirror and take inventory. Don't judge hypocrites because you may be one. Be grateful for the riches of God's kindness and seek his mercy.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
"I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile." -- Romans 1:16
Over 450,000 tons of granite was removed from Mount Rushmore while carving the four presidents.The process was quite dangerous since ninety per cent of the mountain was carved out using dynamite. With the power of this explosive, four sixty foot sculptures were carved out of solid rock. Dynamite is an extraordinary power to behold.
The word used to name Alfred Nobel's invention is derived from the Greek word found in this passage for power. The choice was quite appropriate, since such explosive power is needed to break the chains of sin and set the soul free. When there seems to be no hope, and the grip of sin is rock solid, the dynamite of the gospel is an extraordinary power to behold.
Salvation from the penalty, power and presence of sin is impossible with man. If you feel that religion has failed you and you are completely disconnected from God, try the Gospel. It is simply defined in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, "...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" For all who believe, the gospel is an extraordinary power to behold.
Friday, August 13, 2010
"But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices." -- Psalm 81:11-12
I remember the day I bought my first motorcycle. The guy who owned the dealership gave me wise counsel for riding. His last words were, "The day you become so sure of yourself that you lose all caution, sell the bike". That day came, and I didn't sell the bike. Instead I went to the hospital with broken bones. Turning your back on wise counsel can be painful.
The Lord gave commands and counsel for the welfare of his people. Yet, they made a choice time and again to ignore him. Over time, after Israel refused to submit to him, the Lord "gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices." As a result, the pages of the Old Testament record seasons of great oppression, hardship and national devastation. Turning your back on wise counsel can be very painful.
Do you ever find yourself thinking that you have a better idea than God? Have you questioned his commands and counsel, thinking that they were archaic and irrelevant for today? God's Word is timeless and is best received by submissive hearts. Those who do not listen will have a hard road to travel. Turning your back on wise counsel can be very painful.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
"Help us, O God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake." -- Psalm 79:9
Years ago many people were highly driven by their "family name". Children were told to live up to the family name and were expected to honor it on the sports field or battle field. Family members were considered responsible for their heritage and were instructed to never bring it disgrace. The name was everything.
The psalmist cried out for help and deliverance. What was his greatest concern? Was he focused on his personal safety and future? Or was his city and nation the key to his prayer? His request was centered on the most significant issue... "the glory of your name". Even his cry for forgiveness was made for the sake of God's name. The name was everything.
May we remember whose children we are and whose name we have inherited? May we live up to his name and honor it in all that we do? In our goals and prayers, may they all be for the glory of his name. The day is coming when all God's servants "will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads". (Revelation 22:4) The name is everything.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
"And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." -- Matthew 28:20
On April 18, 1942, four months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle led a retaliation raid on Tokyo, Japan. General Henry Arnold, Commanding General of the U.S. Army Air Corps, directed Doolittle to only train pilots for the mission, believing that he was far too valuable to lose in battle. Doolittle chose not only to train the men, but also fly with them. He led the mission to its completion.
As much as those pilots were inspired and encouraged by the presence of their leader in 1942, so should every soldier of Christ be today. In an older Bible translation we find Jesus referred to as the "captain" of our salvation (Hebrews 2:10). The word in the Greek language is archēgós, which means pioneer leader. Our Lord not only trains us for spiritual battle, he also leads the way, for he is "with us always, to the very end of the age". Jesus leads the mission to its completion.
Do you often feel like you're all alone in the battle of life? Are you pressed on every side with no one to whom you can turn? Well my friend, you have a leader who is with you and is leading the way. He is the "captain" of your salvation and as you face the challenges of every mission, remember to fix your "eyes on Jesus, the author (archēgós) and perfecter of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2). He leads the mission to its completion.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
"When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!” All the people answered, “Let his blood be on us and on our children!”" -- Matthew 27:24-25
Last spring a decision was handed down concerning a rape case in New York City. After a woman was raped repeatedly in the view of two NYC transit employees, the judge ruled that they had no obligation to do anything to help her other than to signal their superiors that police were needed at the station. The case is reminiscent of the Kitty Genovese murder in 1964, when a number of neighbors watched the stabbing without responding with help. When is someone expected to be responsible?
Social responsibility may be open to discussion, but spiritual responsibility is another matter entirely. When each person stands before God after they breathe their last, one question will be asked. "What have you done, in response to my Son?" Pilate wanted to be innocent of the blood of Jesus, but was that possible? Since "all have sinned" (Romans 3:23) and only "the blood of Jesus... purifies us from all sin." (1 John 1:7) "...how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?" (Hebrews 2:3) Eventually, every individual person will be held responsible.
Have you found ways to "pass the buck"? Is the concept of personal responsibility archaic and irrelevant to you? Are you aware that you have already made a decision about Jesus Christ, and you are responsible? John said it in 1 John 5:12, "He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life." What have you done, in response to the Son? The truth is; no one is innocent and everyone is responsible.
Monday, August 9, 2010
"After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them, for your accent gives you away.” Then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly." -- Matthew 26:73-75
The stories of prisoners of war can be most distressful. The mistreatment and humiliation can be overwhelming for the strongest soldier. As time passes some are unable to hold on and they eventually betray their allegiance to home and country. Fear can be an overpowering influence.
Peter was filled with fear. The events of the previous hours included a determined promise that now concluded in devastating failure. The will to prevail gave way to a humiliating betrayal. Peter crumbled under the pressure of opposition and the threat of death. "I don't know the man!"... Fear can be an overpowering influence.
In the battle for spiritual victory, you will face overwhelming opposition. There will be moments when the pressure will be unbearable. Fear will fill your heart and tempt you to deny the Lord in one way another. But remember the words of an older and wiser Peter in 1 Peter 5:9, 11 "standing firm in the faith" the Lord will "make you strong, firm and steadfast." Faith can be an overpowering influence.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
"But they put God to the test and rebelled against the Most High; they did not keep his statutes. Like their fathers they were disloyal and faithless, as unreliable as a faulty bow." -- Psalm 78:56-57
Why are we troubled when a younger generation shows little or no loyalty to anything? Why are we stunned when they speak out against their country and burn her flag? As Yogi Berra put it, "It's Deja Vu, all over again". You don't have to look too far into the past to find our generation burning flags, draft cards and marching with animosity toward our country. The phrase is too true that says, "More is caught than taught".
From generation to generation, the Lord was tested and rebellion ruled the day in the history of Israel. While statutes were given to be handed down to the next generation, the lifestyle of rebellion was louder than words. "Hearts were not loyal to God... spirits were not faithful to him." (vs. 8) The children were "as unreliable as a faulty bow."
Before you put the total blame on wayward youth for their rebellious ways toward the Lord, look within. Where have they gotten their ideas and from whom have they learned such disloyalty? Be careful my friend, little eyes are watching. After you have faithfully taught the truth, be certain to live and speak it faithfully. After all, "More is caught than taught".
Saturday, August 7, 2010
"Later the others also came. ‘Sir! Sir!’ they said. ‘Open the door for us!’ “But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’ “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour." -- Matthew 25:11-13
I stood in the foyer of a hotel some years ago and watched as a fellow traveler became quite animated when he was told that there was no reservation and no room for him. He was absolutely sure that he had a reservation, but the hotel had no record of such and they had no rooms available. No matter how sure he was, the record was clear... his name was not found.
"At midnight the cry came out: 'Here's the bridegroom'" The midnight cry is coming and we have no way of knowing when. The door will be open for all those who have reservations. But when it shuts, those left outside will be without hope. No matter how sincerely we believe that we have reservations, if we don't have the oil of salvation in the lamp of our souls, all we will hear are the words, "I tell you the truth, I don't know you". If we don't know the bridegroom (Jesus) in this life, our name won't be found in the reservation book.
For some, the midnight cry is expected with great anticipation. What about you? Have you trusted Jesus Christ as the only means for your salvation? If you have done so, you have been filled and sealed with the Holy Spirit and your lamp is ready for the wedding banquet. Don't wait until the last moment to come knocking at the shut door. Make sure that your name is found in the reservation book.
Friday, August 6, 2010
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him." -- Matthew 24:42-44
We live in a neighborhood that has certain criminal activity. From the time we moved I took definite defensive steps to be prepared in the event of a robbery. Twelve crime free years have passed, but I am no less expectant today than I was at the beginning. I don't live in fear, I just remain ready.
The Lord chose this very picture to illustrate his imminent return. He will return for his church and after seven years of tribulation, he will return to bring judgment on unbelievers and reign on his throne, as detailed in this chapter and the next. Whether the wait is for the catching up of his church or his return to reign, careless living would be most unwise. It's best to be expectant and remain ready.
As believers, we await the Lord's coming in the clouds; the rapture of the church (Acts 1:11/1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). For us, the judgment seat of Christ is coming (2 Corinthian 5:10). This day will show the quality of our work for Christ (1 Corinthians 3:13). Are you ready for such a moment? If you don't know Christ as your Savior, this chapter speaks a sure warning to you. The day will come when one will be left to live and serve in the kingdom, and another will be taken into eternal judgment where there will be "weeping and gnashing of teeth". Are you ready for that day?
Thursday, August 5, 2010
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel." -- Matthew 23:23-24
The story is told about a coastal life saving station that saved a great many lives every year. As time passed the station became famous and efforts were made to buy better equipment and build a bigger building. The volunteers continued to give much time and energy to improve the looks and quality of the station. It eventually became more beautiful than any other station with more volunteers than ever. With all the activity focused on the station itself, one thing ceased to happen; saving lives. They lost their focus.
Within this passage we read strong words of rebuke from Jesus. He was greatly displeased with the leaders of Israel at that time. They were determined to follow the very fine details of the law with tremendous diligence. They were caught up in the technicalities of the law to such a degree that they forgot the more important matters of justice, mercy and faithfulness. They lost their focus.
It's easy for us to become so obsessive about small microscopic issues that we forget the greater matters and why we are called of God. Some believers are determined to do church the right way and make it look and sound better than any other. In the process they lose sight of the reason the church exists: to save souls. Please be careful my friend, in your drive to do the very best for Jesus, that you don't lose HIS focus... "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them..." (Matthew 9:36)
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
"Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise... Stop listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge." -- Proverbs 19:20, 27
What's the difference between a good Doctor and a great Doctor... or a good mechanic and a great mechanic? One who is well trained in their field will be good. But one who continues to train throughout their career will be great. The difference is this: one has learned and the other is always learning.
This principle was understood by Solomon as he emphasized the need to listen and accept instruction to be wise. At the same time, those who stop listening to instruction will stray. The humble lifelong learner will be wise indeed, because they not only have learned, but are always learning.
Never believe that you finally know the Bible and all its teaching. There is always more to learn and much more to master. The difference between a good disciple and a great disciple is this: one has learned and the other is always learning. Which will you choose to be?
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
"Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years of the right hand of the Most High.” I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds." -- Psalm 77:10-12
Nostalgia can be a mixed bag of memories. The good old days may bring pleasant thoughts for reflection. Then again, if the "good old" days were really that good, we might feel discouraged about the present "not so good" days. The best memories are those that restore faith and hope.
Such was the case for the psalmist. As he said earlier, "When I was in distress, I sought the Lord". In the midst of discouraging circumstances, he took time to remember God's faithfulness and miracles of long ago. He knew that a God who never changes would be as quick to perform "mighty deeds" today as yesterday. This kind of reflection restored his faith and hope.
Nostalgia is a very good medicine when we remember the deeds of the Lord. Jeremiah said it best in Lamentations 3:23, "Great is your faithfulness". Since we have a Savior who is the "same yesterday, today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8), we have every reason to be daily restored in faith and hope.
Monday, August 2, 2010
"No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt a man. But it is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another." -- Psalm 75:6-7
Stars come and go without public elections or political power struggles. Our Solar System is just one member of a vast Milky Way galaxy with 200 to 400 billion stars. But how many galaxies are there in the entire Universe? A recent German supercomputer simulation put that number at 500 billion. Who determines the size or placement of one star or another? God alone is in control.
The Psalmist says in Psalm 147:4, "He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name." and we are told in Isaiah 40:26, "He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing." Since God rules every corner of the universe, why should we find it hard to believe that he rules in the affairs of men? Just when men have deceived themselves into believing that they control their world, this truth knocks at the door, "But it is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another". God alone is in control.
John the Baptist said in John 3:27, “A man can receive only what is given him from heaven." Be wise my friend and look to the Lord for your promotion in life. Be assured as well, that though your world may seem to be in complete disarray, there is order in the universe. Trust in this great truth: God alone is in control.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
"Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God." -- Matthew 22:29
Have you ever been lost in a city? You stop and ask someone for directions and they give you a rather nebulous response. A few blocks later you have to stop again. This time you have an interchange with two or three bystanders and the discussion becomes even more confusing. Oh for a map! (Quite often more dependable than any GPS)
The Scriptures are God's map for life. We can sit around and discuss many ideas about spiritual matters, but if we don't use the map, we will get lost. A good map not only shows the right roads to take, but also has the power to provide us the distance and time our trip will take. God's Word gives clear direction and his power brings possibilities into reality.
Be careful when theological discussions move toward perplexity. The study of the Scriptures will always give insight and the power of God will always give confidence for the future. Don't stay lost in a labyrinth of spiritual confusion. Study the Scriptures and find the direction and power you need for the journey.