"If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full." -- John 15:10-11
Thursday, May 31, 2012
As my boys grew up they did abide in my love. How was that you ask? Because I loved them I provided them with nutritious food to eat, not just candy and cookies that they might have preferred. Because I loved them I insisted that they attend school and complete their school work. To this end they both have college degrees and possess sharpened skills to succeed in life. As a result they are joyful servants of the King of Kings.
In the same way, the Lord has given commandments to express His love and fill our lives with blessings and joy. With this thought in mind John wrote in 1 John 5:3, "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome."
I never pressed my sons with meaningless rules and expectations and the Lord doesn't do this either. His commandments are intended to bring spiritual growth, blessing and joy into our lives. Step back and consider the love of God my friend and give thanks for the way in which he guides your steps... that your joy might be full.
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you." - John 14:26I remember many prayers being said during my college days. Needs varied from money for school to wisdom for the days following graduation. But the most interesting supplications were for help in taking exams. I always wondered what we expected of the Lord; to help us to be calm and remember what we studied or did we hope he would infuse unstudied knowledge into our heads. We can only remember what we have learned.
As this is true of academics so it is of spiritual growth. While we should depend fully on the Holy Spirit to teach us spiritual truths, his ministry also includes reminding us of the words and teaching of our Lord. But, how can he possibly remind us of truth if we have not entrusted it to memory. Reading and memorizing the Word of the Lord is a clear prerequisite for spiritual knowledge and growth. We can only remember what we have learned.
Do you expect the Holy Spirit to provide you with wisdom and guidance at just the right time? What will he have to bring to your mind when needed? Is there a vault of God's Word hidden in your heart? Have you read, reread and memorized the Scriptures so the Lord can "remind" you? Think about it my friend; we can only remember what we have learned.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." - John 13:34-35
A number of years ago, while eating at a seafood restaurant, one of my boys ordered a lobster dinner. When the little critter arrived at the table and the claw was cracked open, there was... nothing! Absolutely nothing! The appearance on the plate was quite promising, but with no meat, no meal.
The spiritual life and ministry is very much the same. The outer shell may look great and might attract great interest, but it's what inside that counts. Love is not just an action; it's the very heart of the matter. Believers that appear pleasing may look quite promising, but with no meat, there is no meal.
Our ministry is the saving and nurturing of souls. The Lord has sent us out into the world to satisfy hungry and thirsty lives with love. But we can never accomplish this calling with empty shells that just look good. Are you filled with and compelled by the love of Jesus? The world needs to see more than an empty promise of love, because with no meat, there is no meal.
Monday, May 28, 2012
"For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them." -- John 13:15-17
Ah yes, the success syndrome... we have been inoculated with this virus and it has taken its toll. God's children have been led down the yellow brick road of glory and prestige. From one season to the next; comfort, abundance, health and wealth dance like sugar plums in the heads of believers. Is this not their right and privilege as children of the King of Kings?
Yet, the King sets a very different example for his followers doesn't He? He reminds us that we are His servants, and a servant is never any greater than their master. If our master humbles Himself to fulfill the lowly task of foot washing, shall we resist the simple task of serving others?
What is your ministry my friend? But wait... what is "ministry"? One definition suggests a rushing about in the dust, caring for the needs of others, without any concern for self. Does this define your ministry? Are you seeking success... or service? What was the example that Jesus left us again?
Sunday, May 27, 2012
"But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him." - Luke 22:51
Would you ask a grieving widow who just lost her husband yesterday to drive you to a doctor appointment? Or would you ask someone who just lost their home in a tornado to make an encouraging nursing home visit? In most cases the answer to both questions would be an emphatic no. Moments of personal pain and sorrow are rarely occasions to show concern for others.
As you read this passage in Luke 22, take time to consider the Lord's emotions and personal trauma. He has been betrayed, turned over to be beaten and crucified, soon to be completely abandoned by His closest friends. And yet, He stops everything to reach out and heal a servant's injured ear. Nothing in His life would deter Him from caring for others.
Have you ever refrained from pouring your heart out to the Lord my friend? Did you think that He might be too busy or that your problem was much too insignificant for His involvement? Learn from this event in the passion of our Lord that there is never a day or hour that He doesn't tremendously care for you and every problem in your life.
Saturday, May 26, 2012
"But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves." - Luke 22:26
Management Consultant Peter Drucker once wrote, "No institution can possibly survive if it needs geniuses or supermen to manage it. It must be organized in such a way as to be able to get along under a leadership composed of average human beings." While Drucker has been a popular resource and widely read, few C.E.O.s have ever gotten hold of this concept.
Jesus wisely selected "average human beings" to serve in spiritual leadership. He himself gave us a perfect example of what it means to be a "servant leader". This model alone allows for all glory to be given to the Lord. Paul reinforced this principle in 2 Corinthians 4:7, "But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us."
Are you surprised that God has chosen to use "jars of clay" to serve Him? Have you finally settled on the fact that you will best serve the Lord as an "average human being" my friend? Do you lead through serving, striving to give God all the glory? Remember; It's all about HIM and not about us.
Friday, May 25, 2012
"And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, 'Take this, and divide it among yourselves... And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, 'This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.'" - Luke 22:17, 19
We are inundated with ways to find happiness. The path to "good times" is wide and well traveled by more than one can count. When any occasion comes to express gratitude most people focus in on the bounty and blessings of life. Rarely is thanksgiving given for stressful and sorrowful days.
Jesus knew the path that He was taking and the suffering that He was about to experience. The pain would be excruciating and the darkness would be overwhelming. Yet, recognizing the approaching cross, He lifted the cup and bread and gave thanks. Our Lord knew the way to the crown passed through the cross, and He was grateful for both.
What are you grateful for today my friend? Can you only find happiness in sunshine and lollipops? Or have you found joy in Jesus as you experience the "good and the bad and the ugly"? Does your faith identify with God's orchestrating every event in life for your good? Isn't that what we embrace with the words of Romans 8:28? "And we know that for those who love God ALL THINGS work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." Maybe this was on Paul's mind when he wrote 1 Thessalonians 5:18, "give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
Thursday, May 24, 2012
"Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.” And he broke down and wept." - Mark 14:72
Emotions greatly differ. Some people rejoice at weddings and others cry, some weep at funerals and others grow quiet, some rejoice at the moment of salvation and others shed tears. No matter how we show emotions, there are moments in life when our souls are touched to the core. The heart that cares is always moved in times of joy or pain and sorrow. The question is: Do we care?
Peter was quite confident that he would never betray his Lord. He followed Jesus to the courtyard and watched as the trial began. He was recognized and in fear he denied the Lord three times, just as Jesus predicted. Peter's emotions were moved at his failure and he wept because he cared.
Does betrayal of the Lord move your heart and emotions? Are you deeply saddened when you sin? Take a closer look at Peter today and then consider your own heart. Have you become so familiar with the process of sin and forgiveness that you no longer feel sorrow when you fail the Lord? We grieve the heart of God whenever we sin (Ephesians 4:30)... Do we care?
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
"And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same." - Mark 14:30-31
As the young man spoke words of devotion to his sweetheart he said, "Neither the largest ocean, nor the highest mountain, nor the widest river, nor the deepest valley will ever keep me from being at your side." And with these words of total commitment he concluded... "by the way, I'll be over to see you tonight, IF it doesn't rain". Words are good, but action is where real devotion comes alive.
Peter and all the other disciples spoke with great determination, but when the pressure came, where were they? Jesus knew the heart of everyone, as we read in John 2:25 that He... "needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man." Words of faith take conviction, but steps of faith take courage.
In time the disciples came to know both conviction and courage as they fulfilled the great commission. Do you speak too quickly and make commitments without counting the cost my friend? Remember that at best, we all have feet of clay so, "... be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might." (Ephesians 6:10) In His strength alone will words become action.
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
"And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that?" -- Mark 14:3-4
I remember listening to Dr. Howard Hendricks read some excerpts from reference forms sent in for prospective students at Dallas Seminary. "This young man is highly gifted in many areas and it's a shame that he is wasting his life on the ministry!" They failed to see the value of doing a "beauty thing" in serving Jesus.
Over the years I have been greatly blessed by such highly gifted men from that seminary. The ministry that we share has been a rich investment and most rewarding. A life that is lived for Jesus will never be a waste. As the story of this woman has been recorded in the Scriptures, her story has marked the lives of more than can be counted. Her honor has only been exceeded by her impact on those who have poured out everything for the sake of Christ. That my friend, is a "beautiful thing".
The words of the martyred missionary Jim Elliot still ring true... "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."
Monday, May 21, 2012
"But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, 'I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.'" - Matthew 26:63
The news is constantly filled with current court cases. Crimes of passion, greed, or outright rage have led to horrific ends. Famous, unknown, young or old, the verdict and sentence always centers on guilt for actions, not identity.
At the end of the day, Jesus was found guilty not for what He did but for who He was. The real verdict and sentence was on those that condemned Him. Jesus was innocent of blasphemy and they were guilty of unbelief.
The Son of God went to the cross and rose from the dead to make us new people. Our godly actions come from our godly identity. Give this some thought my friend: at the end of the day, will you be accepted or rejected for what you do, or who you are?
Sunday, May 20, 2012
"And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, 'My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.'" - Matthew 26:39
You may remember an occasion during your school years when you requested a class cut. You had other plans, but the professor made it clear that the day you requested was necessary to pass the final exam. You attended the class to pass the course.
Jesus saw the path before Him and the course was overwhelming and agonizing. His request was understandable. But the way of the cross was necessary to achieve the final goal... payment for our sin. (Leviticus 17:11) He stayed the course to save our souls.
Divine goals are always bigger than you realize my friend. The challenge for tomorrow may be extremely difficult. You may want out or request another path to follow, but remember, God's plan is always best.
Saturday, May 19, 2012
"And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives." - Matthew 26:30
I am a baby-boomer. Our generation is noted for going nowhere without our tunes. In addition, when other generations did music for entertainment we wrote music to send messages. In the face of social turmoil we sang.
This evening of a last meal with the disciples was a somber occasion. It wasn't a party by any means. The announcement of future hours of betrayal was troubling and confusing. The Lord Himself was to be scourged and crucified in a short time. Yet, in the face of turmoil they sang.
Do you find occasions when you don't feel like singing my friend. You might not have a song of protest, but there is always time to sing praise. Whether in turmoil or triumph, with the Lord on the throne, we have good reason to sing.
Friday, May 18, 2012
"Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, 'What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?' And they paid him thirty pieces of silver." - Matthew 26:14-15
As a young man I ignored the call of God in my life. I began to social drink occasionally. Eventually, I was spending an entire weeks paycheck on weekend drinking. I began to smoke occasionally. Eventually, I was smoking three packs of cigarettes a day. Wrong choices can lead to devastating results.
Judas didn't start out with a plan to betray Jesus. Along the way his greed got the best of him and he made a wrong choice about the money bag as recorded in John 12:6, "...he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it." Eventually, a little greed led to eternal grief. Wrong choices can lead to devastating results.
Where are you going today my friend? What kind of simple choices have you recently made? Have you counted the cost and considered the ultimate outcome of your conduct? The alcoholic begins with one drink. The chain smoker begins with one cigarette. Betraying and denying Jesus begins with choosing to "enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin." (Hebrews 11:25) Wrong choices can lead to devastating results.
Thursday, May 17, 2012
"And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’" - Matthew 25:40
I appreciate it when someone is kind and generous to me. Yet, my gratitude is exponentially multiplied when someone shows kindness and generosity to my wife or my children. I look for ways to honor and recognize such people, because what they did for my family, they did for me.
If we are so moved by the compassion and care shown to our loved ones, how much more the Lord? While it's not possible to tangibly reach out and give the Lord a helping hand, we can definitely touch the life of a brother or sister in the Lord. And, however inconvenient or uncomfortable it might be, when we feed, clothe or visit a child of God, we are doing so to Jesus.
Do you love the Lord my friend? Well, how do you show that love in a tangible way? As you obey His Word, your life becomes a reflection of Him and extends His to love to others. Never be discouraged in your care for the brethren, because... as you did it to one of the least of these His brothers, you did it to HIM.
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
"For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property." - Matthew 25:14
Today many people lease cars. At the end of three years they turn the vehicle in to the dealership, who is the actual owner. Everything has to be in good shape at the time of transfer or there will be a fee to pay. While you can trash your own vehicle all you want, you had better take care of that which belongs to another.
The above principle is timeless, and Jesus reminds us that we are no different than those who lease vehicles. Paul stated in Acts 17:28, "In Him we live and move and have our very being", and in Romans 11:36, "For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things". From life to every gift and ability, it all belongs to God, and we need to take care of that which belongs to another.
Take a few moments and do an inventory my friend. What condition will your "vehicle" be in when the time comes to turn it over to the Owner? But more than the condition is the usage. Have you used it to the glory and honor of the Owner? Don't trash and misuse what doesn't belong to you... Be careful, be wise and be a "faithful servant".
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
"Five of them were foolish, and five were wise... Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’" - Matthew 25:2, 11-12
To identity anyone as less than stellar in every quality today is anathema. We must never suggest that someone might have poor character qualities or heaven forbid, be considered "foolish". It's the age of human perfection at any cost. This pattern seems to suggest: The more we praise one another, the more perfected we become.
The above story tells a much different tale, and the Lord doesn't hesitate to call someone foolish. Why would anyone be considered foolish you might ask? Could it be that as the day of eternal accountability arrives some people will not be ready? Here it is; there is no wisdom in knowing a hurricane, or forest fire, or tsunami is approaching and fail to get ready... it's just plain foolish.
Are you under the persuasion that you will have plenty of time to repent, or get ready spiritually before the Lord returns or you die? Have you chosen to live for Christ after you retire and have more time on your hands? Well, the midnight cry will give no warning and it could come tonight. If you're not ready my friend, you are foolish and far worse... you'll be left behind.
Monday, May 14, 2012
"Water cooler" employees eventually lose their jobs. I have seen far too many fellow workers fired because they failed to do their work. They were given a task to fulfill and they stood around and talked the day away. The employer was left with unmet deadlines and twice the work for the next day. Blessed is the person who is found working when the boss comes around.
The Lord knew that there would be a number of "water cooler" people who would attend church and live within the Christian community. There is much work to do for the Kingdom of God, but alas, many people would rather sit by and watch. A true and faithful servant of Jesus is one who walks the walk rather than just talks the talk.
Are you a talker or a doer my friend? Would you appreciate someone working for you that just passed the time of day? Of course not. How do you believe the Lord feels when you talk more than work? Remember the words of Solomon in Ecclesiastes 9:10, "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might..." Blessed is the person who is found working when the boss comes around.
Sunday, May 13, 2012
“For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be… For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” – Matthew 24:21, 27I have lost count of the times someone has spoken about the good old days. They grieve over how much things have changed, as well as the increase of evil in the world. To these prophets of doom the coming days are dismal indeed. Then there are a few others who see the future as a continual high road to bigger and brighter days. Which group is right?
According to this passage and a vast number of other Scriptures I suggest that both groups are spot on. Evil is a moral and spiritual cancer. It will never cease or diminish until the Lord returns. The days will indeed grow worse and worse with the judgment of God Almighty waiting in the wings. But, after the days of great tribulation the Lord Jesus will return with healing in His wings and hope in His voice. A new day will truly dawn for all who know and love His appearing.
As you face the future, it should never be one or the other focus my friend. We need to keep both elements in mind as we prepare. Spiritual evil will grow more prevalent so we should remain steadfast and strong in our faith walk. The Lord is coming again in all His glory and we should live with the ever present thought, "Perhaps today".
Saturday, May 12, 2012
"And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold." - Matthew 24:12
Do you remember that warm spring day when the sun was suddenly covered by a blanket of clouds? Did you notice how quickly the temperature dropped? When something gets in the way of your sunshine you grow cold fast.
When lawlessness increases, "Son"shine decreases and many grow cold. What is lawlessness? The question is rightly answered in 1 John 3:4, "Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness." Do you ever consider the clouds of sin that block the "Son"shine in your life?
Have you recently been spiritually cold my friend? Has this coolness come upon you slowly, like the easy movement of clouds across the sky? Is there practiced sin in your life that has slipped in unchecked? Don't look elsewhere for reasons why you've grown cold; just look within and deal with the "lawlessness" that has blocked the "Son"shine in your life.
Friday, May 11, 2012
"And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory." - Mark 13:26
Many personalities of history had very unassuming beginnings only to become impressive leaders. They are like the small acorn that grows into a mighty oak. Never despise the day of small things.
Jesus was born in a rustic manger in a small rural village. He grew up as simple carpenter who was ultimately crucified for being the Son of God. Few people have had such unasuming beginnings, yet He is coming again with great power and glory. Never despise the day of small things.
Do you see Jesus as just the gentle friend that blessed children and fed multitudes? Is there any other future expectation than putting your hand in the hand of the man from Galilee? Or are you waiting for the King of kings to come in power and glory? Be ready my friend and never despise the day of small things.
Thursday, May 10, 2012
"Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away." - Luke 21:33
This time last year our family was busy clearing out my in-law's home for a sale and move. We disposed of more stuff than you can imagine. By the end of the process we had filled two large dumpsters with everything but the kitchen sink. After the dust was settled one box was carefully put aside and saved; the Bibles and study helps... these were priceless and timeless.
The lesson learned was how little value was found in most stuff that we collected. Over time everything will slip into dumpsters, but that which remains is what nurtures the soul and lights the path. God's word will never pass away because it's priceless and timeless.
What do you hold dear my friend? Do you have a special treasure closet or hope chest filled with wonderful memories? This too will pass away and eventually all your world will be simplified. Finally, only that which lifts your spirit, challenges your walk and warms your heart will matter. And that will most certainly be the words of the living God to the hungry soul... priceless and timeless.
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
"And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on." - Luke 21:3-4
Now that we are facing the countdown until the November elections, every candidate is being put under the magnifying glass. One area of interest is the pattern of church donations made by these rather wealthy personalities. When their abundance is carefully considered, the size of their gifts often seem to fade.
Jesus gives us a clear lesson on sincere, selfless, spiritual stewardship. The gift is only as significant as the the heart that gives. It's not how much we share as how much we sacrifice. Giving should never be about appeasing our conscience, it should always be about loving the Lord.
The IRS received an anonymous check some years ago with a note that read: "Enclosed is ten dollars of back taxes I failed to pay; if I still can't sleep, I'll send you the rest". Do you give to the Lord so you can sleep at night my friend? Try giving because you love Him with a heart of gratitude. Yes, your giving will go up till it hurts, but your joy will be even greater and God's blessings will be overwhelming... read Malachi 3:10
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
"But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him." - Luke 20:37-38
I have always been amazed at the way some people come to conclusions. Building arguments around straw men is far more common than not. In response to the "If thus and so were to happen, then..." The request of Sergeant Friday from Dragnet is the best approach... "Just the facts Mam, just the facts".
Jesus answers this theological conundrum with the facts of recorded Scripture rightly interpreted. The words in Biblical passages are written with purpose and precision. If given enough prayerful thought and consideration, answers will be there for any question. "Just the facts" are quite enough.
Do you find yourself confused over "what if" spiritual issues my friend? Rather than seeking a passage to support your viewpoint, study the Scriptures for what they say. It has been well stated, "When the Bible makes sense, don't give it any other sense or you'll have nonsense!" Keep to the "Just the facts" and you never go wrong.
Monday, May 7, 2012
"He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” - Luke 20:25
Throughout history battles have been waged between religious communities and governments. America was founded by those who sought freedom to worship without state intervention. In our own day countries in the Middle East are torn apart because of religious differences with national leadership. Does the Bible have an answer for this timeless dilemma?
The answer to the above concern is a definitive yes. Jesus gave us a wise and irrefutable word of counsel in the above passage. While Caesar was a tyrant and madman, Jesus called for taxes to paid and respect given. The state was to be acknowledged with responsible citizenship. Yet, at the same time God was receive faithful worship and service from His people.
In your frustration with the government, are you still a responsible citizen my friend? Along with the above words, give careful thought to Romans 13:1-2, "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment." Honor God by being a good citizen and faithful believer.
Sunday, May 6, 2012
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!" - Matthew 23:37
On November 19, 1863, Edward Everett gave the keynote address at the dedication ceremony for the National Cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. He was quite eloquent as he spoke for two hours. As an afterthought, President Abraham Lincoln was given the opportunity to present a few appropriate remarks. He spoke for two minutes. Those heart felt, passionate, well chosen words have cut into the heart and history of this nation.
Jesus gave lengthy discourses on many occasions. But this short passage for our reading speaks from a broken, grace filled heart. In a few words, the ministry of our Lord to Israel was clearly encapsulated. He came with love and mercy in his words and works, offering a new day to a disparaged nation, but they refused. In the simple analogy of a mother hen gathering her brood Jesus poured out his heart... "you would not!"
It doesn't take two hours to drive home the love of God my friend. Jesus came from heaven to save His people from their sin... and they said "no thanks". How often has the Lord knocked at the door of your heart to save your soul, or guide your steps into a more blessed future and "you would not?" In this simple passage we are reminded that the Lord is coming again for those who say "Blessed is he who comes in the Lord". Will that be you?
Saturday, May 5, 2012
“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)
Friday, May 4, 2012
"Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?" - Mark 12:24
I grew up with oatmeal. It was just simple oatmeal without any additives. Because some people thought oatmeal wasn’t fun to eat, we now have hundreds of cereal choices available. These new and improved additions to the breakfast table include more additives than anyone can count or pronounce. In the face of such tasty bowls of confusion oatmeal still remains a simple source for a healthy breakfast… all by itself.
Jesus spoke to those who should have known the Scriptures well, but they were too caught up in their traditions and arguments over added minutiae. They had slipped into error and furthermore, they were oblivious to the power of God. They drifted from the simple truth and misunderstood the purpose and provision of God for the future. Hope was dashed due to lack of study and a wide array of additives. They had little to offer those in need since they didn't know the Scriptures or the power of God.
Are you aware of all that you possess in the Word of God? Do you realize that the power of God can change your life and provide every need for now and all eternity? Do you study the Word to learn all that it has to offer? Do you trust the Lord for his capacity to do the impossible? The Bible may be simple to some, but it’s still the best source for a healthy spiritual life… all by itself.
Thursday, May 3, 2012
"And they took him and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard. What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others." - Mark 12:8-9
The historic events that came upon Israel as a nation are devastating and heartbreaking. One event in particular is the destroying Jerusalem in 70 A.D. While ill feelings can be mustered toward Titus and the Roman government, issues of accountability before God take precedence. When the Messiah was rejected and crucified, Israel as a nation was rejected as well.
The key to the above account is found on a hill called Calvary, "...they took him and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard". John 1:11 spoke of it in this way, "He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him." If this is the case for an entire nation, how is it with everyone who makes the choice to turn their back on Jesus? Rejection of God's Son is never anything less than devastating and heartbreaking.
How have you responded to the claims and invitation of Christ my friend? The above passage from John 1:11 continues into verse 12 with the following promise... "But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God". Your response to Jesus will make all the difference in the world. Rejection will bring ultimate devastation, while reception will bring immediate and eternal blessing. Which will you choose?
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
"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.
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
“But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.” - Matthew 22:11-14
I have recently found many younger men and women who prefer non-traditional dress for their weddings. In some cases it seems to be just outright rebellion to the established norm. In the process the marriage itself is taken down a notch in its sacred nature. From the very beginning of time, human nature (that is our sin nature) has said, "Don't tell me what to do or how to do it, I'll do it my way!" (Genesis 3:6)
Traditional wedding garments have changed over the years and may not be a litmus test of spirituality, but the need to be dressed in the righteousness of Christ will never change. The story above clearly reveals the fact that there is only one way to dress for the kingdom wedding, and it's not "our way". If we don't "put on the Lord Jesus" (Romans 13:14) then we'll be "put out" in the dark.
The application is simple my friend. Your good works will never suffice for heavenly attire. Only the finished work of a perfect Savior will be accepted. While Frank Sinatra made the song "My Way" popular in this life, the only entrance into a future heaven is "His Way". There is no better way!