Saturday, June 30, 2012

"The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ." - Acts 5:41-42
Summer is here, and with it comes the national pastime… baseball. Week in and week out, every team will play hard with dreams of being the world champion. Since only one team will win that coveted trophy, the rest will finish the season disappointed, but determined to play again next year, with renewed focus on the big prize. They are passionate about the competition and willing to suffer the pain and even the losses to play. They want to be in the game.
The apostles were persecuted for their faith and threatened. They suffered the humiliation with joy and pressed on with passion. They were determined to reach others with the good news at any cost. They would continue to experience setbacks of opposition, but they would never stop speaking for Jesus. They wanted to be in the game.
 Are you passionate about your faith? Are you determined to tell others the good news about Jesus? Paul said there is a prize to press toward... "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:14) Don't sit on the sideline; make a choice today... get in the game!

Friday, June 29, 2012

"And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things." -- Acts 5:11
Over time the church of Jesus Christ has become a comfortable place to gather. It is seen by many believers as a club to join, with varied benefits for members. Accountability for spiritual conduct and wholesome living isn't part of the package. We live in a day of Christian liberty gone amuck. There is no fear of God or his displeasure.
The early church began on sure footing. There was spiritual power and great life changes. God was working miracles in every corner. Then along came two believers that took accountability and Godly living lightly. They chose to be deceptive, having no thought of God or his church. The story is sobering to say the least and a healthy fear spread throughout the whole church.
Do you take church and Godly living seriously my friend? Are you aware that accountability before the Lord is of great importance? The Lord is not in the habit of overlooking unrepentant and unconfessed sin. The healthy church is a place where Godliness is expected and reverence for the Lord is required.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

"Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness"  - Acts 4:27-29 
When my father retired, he had no health insurance and my mother had a major stroke that left her partially paralyzed. At the time, I needed to set aside my academic pursuits and help my parents through a very discouraging process. But, as a result of my being with them during those days, I began ministering in our church with a lovely young lady, who eventually became my wife. From our marriage, came two fine young men who are both serving the Lord. God always has a way of bringing beauty out of ashes.
The events of our Lord's crucifixion  were devastating if left by themselves. The hours that followed the Lord's death were frightening and distressful for the disciples. But, in this passage we see a new boldness that found courage in the Sovereign work of God. As a result of Calvary, came the resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. God always has a way of bringing beauty out of ashes.
Are you in the midst of ashes today? Have the events of life left you discouraged and confused? Remember, the path of the cross was followed by resurrection, Pentecost and the power to serve.  David said it right in Psalm 30:5, "... weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning."  Pray for courage and walk in faith, believing that... God always has a way of bringing beauty out of ashes.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

"Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus." - Acts 4:13
As far back as the 12th century, apprenticeships were a large part of learning a trade. Parents would often place their teenage son under the instruction of a Guild's Master craftsman. After 5 to 9 years the young man would most likely become highly skilled in the specified trade. His future success as a craftsman would depend on who he had been with during his years of training.
While the disciples were uneducated, common men, they had spent three years with Jesus. They sat under his teaching and joined him in a great many ministry activities. They had become highly skilled servants and preachers of the Gospel. But, what was most significant was not so much the lessons learned as the One they had been with during their years of training.
When you minister from week to week my friend, what do people observe most of all? Are they impressed with your Bible knowledge, or is it your vast church experience? Do you have an impressive resume from the best Bible Colleges and Seminaries? These will never have the  same lasting impact as who you spent time with in preparation. Every day and every week, your skill in ministry should be rooted in this fact: that you have been with Jesus.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

"By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see." - Acts 3:16
My wife loves to plant flowers in the spring. She makes plans and arranges everything in her garden to look a certain way. She plants, fertilizes and faithfully waters the little guys. After a while our house looks like "Better Homes & Gardens". While Jayne does a lot of work and learns better gardening skills every year, the truth remains... God grows the flower.
When Peter spoke to the man crippled from birth, he jumped to his feet and walked. People came from all around to see the miracle. Did Peter call attention to himself or the Lord as the healer? Peter was given the privilege to plant seeds of faith in the Lord's garden, but... God grows the flower.
As you venture into the Lord's garden today, keep in mind that you are serving with the Master. You will be given opportunities to plant seeds of truth and faith, and people will be greatly blessed. Some lives may be dramatically changed and blossom in beautiful ways, but after you've diligently labored, remember... God grows the flower.


Monday, June 25, 2012

“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”" - Acts 2:36-37 
I cut my finger. Yes, I wasn't being careful and with a slip of the hand a very well sharpened knife sliced right into the little digit. I always make sure that my knives are sharp as razors and when they are properly used they are great tools. But this time, with a misguided flex of muscle, the blade literally "cut to the bone".
When Peter spoke the Word of God in the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit, people responded. They were moved to conviction and knew a decision was needed. When the Scriptures are used with God empowered precision, they are "... living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword..." (Hebrews 4:12) With a well guided flex of the Spirit, the Word will literally "cut to the heart".
Paul counseled Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:15 to do his best to rightly handle the Word of truth. Are you doing your best in the study of the Bible? Are you skilled in using it to bring truth to bear in your life and in the lives of others? Remember my friend, the Word of God is a sharp tool of spiritual value, intended to "cut to the heart". 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

"both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians — we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God." - Acts 2:11

I have a Subaru Forester. It can serve as a luggage carrier, shelter from rain and snow, mini concert hall and small conference center. But at the end of the day, this mighty motor driven vehicle has one foremost purpose in life: transportation. It gets me from point A to point B, and it does this admirably.
God bestowed spiritual gifts in a similar way. While the giftedness of believers may differ in many ways and be used to accomplish many goals, God has given them to expand His kingdom. They may be desired and nurtured for various reasons, but after all is said and done, these supernatural abilities have one foremost purpose: to glorify God by proclaiming his mighty works.
Once again my friend it's not about us, it's all about HIM. The lesson is clear; identify your spiritual giftedness, regularly exercise your gifts and seek the one foremost goal: glorify God by proclaiming his mighty works.  

Saturday, June 23, 2012

"They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers." - Acts 1:14
The first phrase I learned as a Scout was "Be Prepared". According to the Scout handbook, the idea is: "Be prepared for life - to live happily and without regret, knowing that you have done your best." Big moments in life come without warning and it's too late to prepare. So, the best plan of action is to always "Be Prepared".
One of those big moments was coming for the disciples. They had been through so much over the previous months, but they still needed to get ready. They were instructed to wait for power from on high and they did just that. But, how did they wait? They joined together constantly in prayer. What were they praying for and why did they pray constantly? Above all other considerations, they joined together in prayer to "Be Prepared".
Is your prayer life just a matter of asking for the needs of the moment? Do you just "put out fires" through prayer? Or do you spend time seeking spiritual wisdom and strength "to live happily and without regret, knowing that you have done your best."? The best plan of action is to "Be Pray-pared".

Friday, June 22, 2012

"Jesus said to them,“Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish." -- John 21:12-13
For over thirty four years I have been a Pastor to people from almost every culture. While there are a variety of differences from one culture to the next, I have noticed one similarity. The time of socializing is most often shared around meals. The breaking of bread among neighbors, friends and family has always served as a casual door to deeper moments of sharing. A simple meal can be a valuable moment of significant communion.
This timeless practice was a common event in the ministry of Jesus. He fed multitudes that came to learn, as well as shared deep truths during an evening meal just hours before his crucifixion. His invitation to the Church of Laodicea was "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me." (Revelation 3:20)  A simple meal can be a valuable moment of significant communion.
How has this last week been for you and yours my friend? Have you been rushed by the possibilities of great sales and demanding schedules? In the midst of it all have you made the time to just sit down with loved ones and friends to share your heart over a few bites of refreshment? You will find hearts more open to spiritual truths when sharing in a casual atmosphere. A simple meal can be a valuable moment of significant communion.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

"On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord."  - John 20:19-20
During my teen years our church youth went on a summer retreat in Canada. A family in the church had a cabin right on the water in the Thousand Islands region. The scenery was beautiful, the surroundings were serene and the weather was perfect. It was just the place to spend time with the Lord. We came back home rejoicing from our "mountaintop" experience.
Retreats are great, but are they always necessary for a serious encounter with Jesus? The disciples were gathered together, locked up in a house, afraid for their very lives. There were no gentle breezes blowing, no soothing sounds of a lake and no warm rays of the sun to bask under. The atmosphere was far from being a "mountaintop" setting. But then, Jesus came and stood among them and they were overjoyed.
Jesus will meet us anywhere, anytime in any setting. We just need to take the time to patiently seek his face and the "mountaintop" will come to us. May your joy never be determined by the beauty of the creation my friend, but may it overflow from the beauty of the Creator.  "The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord."

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

"Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher)." -- John 20:16
To whom does the honor go of experiencing the first meeting with the resurrected Christ? Like the first Bethlehem viewing having gone to simple shepherds, so this occasion went to a humble, but devoted woman. While Jesus appeared to the disciples soon after, this moment belonged to Mary. She was called by name and given the blessed assurance of the resurrection. 
As you rise to worship the living Savior from morning to morning, remember that each one of us is loved and blessed by name. Our relationship with the Lord is quite unique and most personal. We read earlier in John 10:3, "The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name..." 
Before you head out to face the day my friend, take time to quietly meet with the One who has risen from the dead. Visit with your Lord, listen for His voice, and bow before Him in humble adoration and worship.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

"He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures." - Luke 24:44-45

Some years ago I purchased a set of CDs that promised to open a whole new world of foreign language. These CDs were supposed to be the key that would bring instant understanding with very little effort. Well, after some time I disposed of them because I couldn't find the promised "key" to instant understanding.
As Jesus shared with the disciples, he didn't offer them a set of CDs or any other academic program. He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. As a result, as time passed we read, "When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus." (Acts 4:13) Jesus is the "key" to instant understanding.
Don't be afraid to open the pages of your Bible. Pray for understanding and read on. The Lord will give what you need and each day you will find new insight from him. Take the whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation and look for the Lord on every page and you will find the "key" to instant understanding.

Monday, June 18, 2012

"So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them." - Luke 24:28-29
"Stop in sometime!" These words are heard quite often, but do they express a genuine invitation? For some people who live quite casually, the answer is yes. But for most, such words are just a social nicety. In most cases we only stop in and visit when there is a sincere request for our presence. We need to know that we are really wanted.
This is quite an interesting moment as the Lord travels on the road to Emmaus. We are told that "He acted as if he were going farther". But those with whom He conversed "urged Him strongly" to stay with them. They were quite serious about their invitation and the Lord responded accordingly, "So He went in to stay with them". The Lord is no different than we are in this matter; He needs to know that He is really wanted.
Each day brings a new opportunity for close fellowship with the Lord my friend. The question is, do you extend a sincere invitation and "urge Him strongly" to commune with your heart in the quiet hours? He said it best in Jeremiah 29:13, "You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart." He needs to know that He is really wanted.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him,  just as he told you.’ ” - Mark 16:6-7
Job said, "My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you." (Job 42:5) The occasions that I have been told something and forgotten the information is legendary. On a similar note, I am always amazed how often we announce events at our church that are never heard. As my Dad would often say, "some things go in one ear, and out the other."
The day that Jesus rose from the dead was an amazing morning. To the disciples though, it was an unexpected event, but how could that be, since they were told time and again by our Lord? He had taught so much and the most important truth was his promised resurrection. While the followers of Jesus could have lived from Friday to Sunday with great expectations, they were saddened with overwhelming hopelessness. What Jesus had said about rising again, went in one ear, and out the other.
Jesus is coming again. There is no doubt in my mind, because he said he would. If we have heard and read this, do we live in expectation? Or do we live with a hopeless Friday to Sunday outlook? Jesus will meet us in the air, just as we've been told. How then shall we live? May this great truth go in one ear... and change our lives.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

"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 just 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.

Friday, June 15, 2012

"When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit." - John 19:30

Whenever I drive past an unfinished building that appears to be abandoned I feel sad. Someone had dreams of a new venture that failed. The economy, unexpected events or just poor planning led to an unfinished project. The hopes someone had were gone and all they left behind was a deteriorating signpost that read "failure".
Thankfully, God knows no such concept as "failure". What he begins, he finishes. Jesus went the cross on purpose and only when he "finished" the work of redemption did he give up his spirit. In the words of a builder, the work of Christ was a "turn-key" job. When you trust Christ for your salvation and eternal life, he just hands you the key. The project is complete; all you have to do is take residence.
Just as God started and finished the work of redemption for us, he is working today to make us more like Jesus. May we be encouraged that God never fails at what he starts..."he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion" - Philippians 1:6  

Thursday, June 14, 2012

"... He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” -- John 19:14-15
Many Sovereigns around the world have been killed in insurrections. Is it possible that you have recently executed your King? This is done by selfish choices of many kinds every day. We face each day beholding our King and yet, at various moments throughout the day we state "We have no king but..." Who is your king my friend?
Don't pigeon hole these Jews as a hardened people who are just opposed to Jesus. Yes, Pilate presented them with a final opportunity to set the Lord free, and they rejected Him. But to claim Caesar as their king was an outright political ploy to get what they wanted. Are you any less open to embracing new kings that provide the means to push Jesus away?
The end of this thought is found in the fact that we can have only one king in life my friend. Jesus stated it this way in Matthew 6:24, "No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other." The crowd was right in saying, "We have no other king but..." Who is your king today?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

"... 'I find no guilt in him. But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover. So do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?' They cried out again, 'Not this man, but Barabbas!' Now Barabbas was a robber." -- John 18:38-40
Life is all about choices. We choose our friends, our colleges, our spouses and our careers. Each of these choices ultimately determines the outcome of our future. Therefore, our choices are critical in more ways than one can imagine. Should we choose for the moment or the long run?
The day arrived when the people were given a choice between Jesus and Barabbas. The reasons for their choice may be more than meet the eye. Barabbas was a man of the world who followed the path of evil to fulfill his desires. Jesus brought the kingdom of God which called for a very different way of living. The crowd chose for the moment rather than the long run.
We begin our spiritual walk by choosing Jesus as Savior. But, do we choose his kingdom and lifestyle every day? Are you enticed by the way of the world that follows any path to fulfill its desires my friend? Or will you choose the path of Jesus that leads to eternal blessings? Be wise, and choose for the long run rather than the moment.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

"When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the Kidron Valley, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples. So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward..." - John 18:1-4 

It was a morning not unlike this morning. Some were still sleeping and others were having breakfast, preparing to attend church. They were at peace on an island that God blessed with beauty and tranquility. Then, at 7:51 the peace was broken and in a very short time 2,350 souls would enter eternity. War had come to Pearl Harbor and the world would never be the same again.
Spiritual warfare will often come to us in the same way. We are in the olive grove with the Lord and all is calm. And then the enemy comes with a detachment of soldiers. We are surprised, but Jesus is not, because he always knows what is going to happen and is prepared. Peace may be shaken, but the protective care of Jesus is always fulfilled:  “I have not lost one of those you gave me.” (vs. 9) 
We can never hide from spiritual battles; they will even come to us in the olive grove. But unlike Pearl Harbor, we have a Savior who stands between us and defeat. He tasted death for us, that we might have everlasting victory. Put your battles in the hands of Jesus and your world will never be the same again.

Monday, June 11, 2012

"Now there was a man named Joseph, from the Jewish town of Arimathea. He was a member of the council, a good and righteous man, who had not consented to their decision and action; and he was looking for the kingdom of God." - Luke 23:50-51 
Have you ever considered the minority reports of the Bible? You will find Joshua and Caleb among the distressed spies, David among a frightened Saul and his army, Jeremiah among misleading prophets and Daniel among jealous peers. These were lone voices in an ocean of resistance when the easy road would choose passive agreement. Yet, we remember these men, not necessary for moving mountains, but for standing their ground in the face of opposition.
Joseph of Arimathea was one of those minority voices among the Jewish council members. He didn't have the sway or support to move the group away from crucifixion. But he wasn't about to be moved away from his personal convictions. He had not consented to the decision and he was now courageous enough to care for the dead body of Jesus. He couldn't move mountains, but he stood his ground and made a difference.
When you are pressed by the majority and still have strong convictions, what do you do my friend? Are you willing to speak up and sacrifice for what you know is right? Or do you cave under the pressure of the crowd? While you may never move mountains, you can certainly stand your ground for Jesus; and that will make all the difference in the world. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

"He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will." - Luke 23:25
In March, 2012, Spc. Dennis Weichel of the Rhode Island National Guard substituted his life for the life of a little Afghan girl. According to Lt. Col. Denis Riel of the Rhode Island National Guard, a 16 ton Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicle was moving toward  the child at a breakneck speed. Weichel saw the massive truck bearing down on the girl and grabbed her out of the way; in the process, the armored truck ran him over. The little girl was fine, but Weichel died of his injuries a short time later.
At the time of his release, Barabbas hardly understood the significance of this exchange. His life was saved through the crucifixion of Jesus. This is the gospel in a pictorial nutshell. Jesus substituted His life for far more than one insurrectionist. He took our deserved payment for sin, so that we might walk away free of guilt and condemnation. This is called the substitutionary atonement of Christ. He died in our place.
Dennis Weichel was honored with a posthumous promotion. The greater honor would be for the little Afghan girl to live her life in the most productive and compassionate way possible. What are you doing with the life that Jesus gave you my friend? How are you honoring Him for the sacrifice He made on the cross? Don't just take the gift and run; embrace it and live for Jesus in the most productive and compassionate way possible.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

"And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other." - Luke 23:12

The events of 911 led to the most interesting alliances. Political, religious and business adverseries became allies overnight. A tragic occasion broke down walls of seperation and brought opposing parties together. But such union was short lived.
The Lord Jesus brought two adverseries together as allies. Thier animosity was set aside for the goal of persecuting the Savior. Throughout the years Jesus has brought peace to a great many. For some this tranquility has been life changing, but for others it has been short lived.
The difference between lasting peace and short lived peace is found in why we seek Jesus. If we seek Him as the very Prince of peace we will find eternal blessing. But, if we seek Him as just a piece of the puzzle, we will come up empty. Have you found peace with God through the risen Redeemer my friend? Only then will you find lasting peace. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

"And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom." - Mark 15:37-38
On November 17, 1558, Mary Tudor died. That moment brought the end of a bloody reign of persecution which caused the death of some 300 protestants. The passing of this volatile queen opened the door for a new queen and the English Protestant Church. The curtain was finally torn.
Such was the day of our Lord's crucifixion. As He breathed His last, the days of legalism and ritualism were ended. A new day of grace and mercy had arrived for all who would embrace the finished work of Jesus. All who were religiously weary and burdened would find spiritual rest for their souls. The curtain was finally torn.
Why labor for that which has already been purchased my friend? Why carry the load of religious trappings and stained glass rituals when the door to spiritual freedom has been opened? Take the hand of the One who breathed His last for you and walk into the light. The curtain has been torn and it's a new day.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

"Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified." - Mark 15:15
It is said that comedian Milton Berle had his mother sit in the front row when he performed. She would laugh loudly and heartily when a joke fell flat and usually the audience followed. In this scenario each person would respond to the actions of others in complete contradiction to their own feelings. The influence of the majority has often led to wrong decisions that were regretted later. It takes courage to swim against the current.
Pilate was a significant political leader in his time. He was entrusted with serious and demanding responsibilities. Yet, in his leadership role, he was torn between what he knew was right and what he knew was politically correct. He fought hard, but eventually caved into the cries of the crowd. Filled with fear and political pressure, attempting to avoid further conflict, Pilate lost his courage to swim against the current.
Are you willing to stand alone with Jesus? Or does the crowd play a large part in your choices and conduct? Who do you strive to please from day to day? Are you led by God or by man? The day that you accepted Jesus as your only means of salvation, you stood apart from the crowd. As a follower of Christ today, will you be courageous enough to live the right way and swim against the current?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

"So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard." - Matthew 27:66
During his lifetime Harry Houdini became a legendary escape artist. He broke free from jails, handcuffs, chains, ropes and straitjackets. Having been thrown overboard in a nailed and roped crate, as well as submerged in a sealed casket, his escapes from both were successful. Then, after years of breaking free from impossible situations he finally failed one last escape attempt. Harry Houdini died on October 31,1926 and his tomb has been secure ever since.
Throughout his career, many challengers attempted to defeat Houdini. After a while these attempts became somewhat humorous. Yet, there were none so laughable as the attempt made by the Pharisees who sealed the tomb of Jesus. When men tried to deny, bury, and hold down the Living Savior, they quickly found that the tomb was never secure.
Jesus is alive! He has risen from the dead and the tomb is empty. You can make every attempt to bury Him in the past or in religious confusion, but you'll never be able to hold Him down. So be ready my friend, because Jesus lives and is coming soon, since His tomb was never secure.
  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

"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

Not too long ago 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, June 4, 2012

"Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself."" -- Matthew 27:3-4

During the 2010 season, Major League Baseball umpire Jim Joyce made an errant call that cost Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga the victory of a "perfect" game. While MLB Commissioner Bud Selig clearly acknowledged the call to be in error, he refused to overturn the call. With great emotion, Jim Joyce apologized to Galarraga at the beginning of the next game, but while the apology was kindly accepted, nothing could change the call that cost a "perfect" game.
In a far more significant set of circumstances, another call was made that couldn't be reversed. Judas was disturbed at the outcome of his betrayal and changed his mind, but it was too late. He had walked with Jesus for three years and never fully trusted the Lord as his Savior. When he realized his error, he acknowledged having "... sinned by betraying innocent blood". No amount of remorse could change the call that led to Calvary for Jesus and eternal condemnation for Judas.
Making a wrong call can be quite life changing. The most significant call in life is how you respond to the Lord Jesus Christ. This call can never be reversed in eternity. You may apologize all that you want, but nothing will change the lost condition of your soul. Be wise my friend and make the right call about Jesus... your "perfect" eternity depends on it.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

"My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one." -- John 17:15
The causes that lead to military engagement are many. As a result our young men and women serve in parts of the world that place them in harm's way. They are given ballistic vests, Type III and above, having added steel, titanium, ceramic or polyethylene plates which can withstand high-powered rounds such as those from rifles. While we may desperately desire that they be safely at home, we provide them with gear that will protect.
As members of the Lord's army, we are placed on the battle field of life in the face of great evil. Knowing that we are here for a great purpose, the Lord doesn't seek for our removal. We have been sent into the battle to spread the good news of Jesus and show the world his love. Although we may be in harm's way as we serve, we have the Lord's intercession for protection.
When you are discouraged in the face of spiritual warfare, be strengthened my friend. As the evil presses in upon you with unending attacks, be assured of victory. Remember that you have the greatest "ballistic vest" in the Lord's intercession for your protection.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

“A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me." -- John 16:32
I remember the first Christmas I spent away from home. I was at college, working full time and unable to return home for the holidays. The dorm was empty and I was alone. The feeling was haunting and one I will never forget. When circumstances leave us alone, we need a companion.
Jesus was soon leaving the disciples and he knew his path would be hard. He had planned to meet their need for comfort by promising them the coming of the Holy Spirit. But he knew that he would be left alone in his suffering for sin. Thankfully, though he would be alone, he had a companion.
When you feel all alone and overwhelmed by the situation where do you turn? Will you simply sit in a cloud of discouragement or will you consider the fact that you are never really alone? As Jesus consoled himself in the face of lost support from friends, so should we remember, our Lord is with us always... to the very end of the age.(Matthew 28:20)
  

Friday, June 1, 2012

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now." -- John 16:12
Patience is a virtue. And so our walk with God must be a patient one. First of all, we too are not always ready for the deeper things of the Lord. There is often a need for growth and maturity before we can be entrusted with greater truth. Then there are things that we have no need to know until the time.
As the Holy Spirit was bestowed upon the Disciples to guide them into all truth, so He settles into our lives as believers. When we grow impatient and yearn for greater knowledge, sooner than we should, He gives us peace and the patience to wait. And, at just the right time He will gives us understanding and truth.
Don't be in such a hurry my friend. Wait on the Lord as the watchmen wait for the morning. (Psalm 130:6) The light will dawn in your heart when you are ready, just as the sun rises in the morning hours. Remember... "But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day." (Proverbs 4:18)