Sunday, June 30, 2013

"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!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

"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.

Friday, June 28, 2013

"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.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

"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 and 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.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

"And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles." - Acts 2:42-43
I owned an ant farm when I was a kid. It was a great study of true devotion to a cause. These little guys were all about building tunnels and feeding the family. They never gave up, no matter how many times the "farm" fell over and destroyed their good work. The words of Solomon were on point when he wrote in Proverbs 6:6, "Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise."
The early believers were "devoted" to spiritual disciplines and God blessed with great power. The word for "devoted" speaks of endurance or steadfast faithfulness. No matter what happened to deter the people of God, they pressed on day by day with tenacious determination, just like the ant. Persecution came in waves, but perseverance brought divine wonders.
Stay the course my friend. With "devotion" to the cause of Christ will come awesome results. Such steadfastness will require an endurance that only God can provide, but He is able  "... to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us." (Ephesians 3:20) When your tunnels cave in, just build new ones and press on with renewed devotion.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

“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 recently 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". 

Monday, June 24, 2013

"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.
  

Sunday, June 23, 2013

"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".

Saturday, June 22, 2013

""When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?”... Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”.... The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”" - John 21:15, 16, 17
 A young man told his sweetheart, "I love you so much that I'd climb the highest mountain for you, I'd swim the largest ocean for you, I'd walk around the world for you... and by the way, I'll be over to see you tonight if it doesn't rain." Songs, cards and letters are written everyday proclaiming an undying love to someone. And in no time at all those same relationships break apart for the lack of true love. True love is the necessary element.
Jesus took Peter aside to restore him to fellowship and service after a most painful denial. Many things could have been said, but Jesus focused on the most important factor, "do you truly love me" The words meant, do you love me selflessly and sacrificially? To rightly serve the Lord, one must love him first, more than anything.
Are you preparing to serve the Lord today? Will you be busy in some ministry this week? Before you begin, ask yourself the BIG question. Do you truly love the Lord today, more than anything? Your love for him is the necessary element.

Friday, June 21, 2013

"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 our joy never be determined by the beauty of the creation, but may it overflow from the beauty of the Creator.  "The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord."

Thursday, June 20, 2013

"Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit." - John 19:28-30

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
  

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

"Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home." - John 19:25-27
Far too many families are lost to the pursuit of careers. Both men and women are consumed with making it big and finding success in their field of expertise. There is no sacrifice too great to achieve their goals. With such overwhelming preoccupation, family commitments fade.
Jesus went to the cross with the greatest goal in all of history. His purpose was to redeem the souls of mankind through the shedding of his blood. He became sin for sinners so they might be clothed with the righteousness of God. While this demand was tremendous, his devotion to family remained a priority. To Jesus, family commitments never faded.
How about it my friend? Where is your family in the flow of your life? Have you become so entrenched with your work and all your expectations that your family has become a distant second? Look to the cross and see the Savior; in the midst of incredible suffering, loving and caring for his mother. Be wise, and never, never, never let your family commitments fade.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

"... “I find no basis for a charge against him. But it is your custom for me to release to you one prisoner at the time of the Passover. Do you want me to release ‘the king of the Jews’?” They shouted back, “No, not him! Give us Barabbas!” Now Barabbas had taken part in an uprising." -- 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.

Monday, June 17, 2013

"When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove, and he and his disciples went into it. Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons. Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out..." - 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.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." - John 17:20-23

In the film "Backdraft" you hear this phrase periodically, "You go, we go". The thought behind it is simple. Firefighters serve as one man, committed to die for one another if necessary. Such camaraderie is quite rare in most circles of life. The "one man" scenario seems to be reserved for firefighters, policemen and certain military units. Rarely does one find such a spirit of "one man" devotion in the church.
Should we seek this kind of oneness in the church today? Is it really important enough to make it happen? Jesus places supreme importance on the spirit of oneness in the fact that he prays for unity. He also identifies Christian unity as the great apologetic as he prayed, "May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me". The Lord's Prayer is really, that we would be one as He and the Father are one. This is a lifetime commitment and a life-changing one as well.
Are you "one" with your brothers and sisters in Christ today? Does the world see a very unique camaraderie within your church? Are you willing to say, in the most pressing moments, "You go, we go"? Jesus prayed that we would.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

"A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy." - John 16:21-22
A few months ago we celebrated my oldest son Jeremy's twenty-ninth birthday. We had a great meal, talked, laughed and just had a joyful time together as a family. Twenty-nine years ago it was a little different, as I sat with my dear wife during her twelve-plus hours of labor. The delivery itself was quite painful and seriously complicated for both Jayne and the little guy. And here he is today, not so little, still quite complicated, but a joy to behold.
The disciples were about to enter into a seriously complicated time of pain. Grief would overwhelm them and fear would haunt them. Questions and doubt would rob them of sleep and prevent them from experiencing any peace or joy. But Jesus promised that they would see him again, the grief would be gone and then they would rejoice.
Our lives are often filled with great sorrow and we wonder where or when we will find relief. Jesus promised in John fourteen that in him, we would have peace to carry us through the storms of life. But one day, Jesus will come from heaven for us, as he came from the tomb to meet the disciples. When that day comes, there will be no more sorrow "and no one will take away your joy". Perhaps TODAY!!

Friday, June 14, 2013

“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)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you." - John 15:9-12
"Jesus loves me! This I know, For the Bible tells me so; Little ones to Him belong, They are weak but He is strong. Yes, Jesus loves me!" So the words begin in the familiar Sunday school song written by Anna B. Warner. Yes Jesus loves us, and in that love our joy may be complete. Yet love is a living entity and it needs to be nurtured to stay strong and not grow stagnant.
Love in the marriage, family or any relationship is only as strong as it is nurtured. We give of ourselves to others, thus showing them our love. We invest in their lives every day, not just on holidays and special occasions. As a result, we experience a lasting joy that runs deep within our hearts. Jesus gives such a love and rightfully asks of us to return the same.
To remain in the love of Jesus, one needs to obey his commands, which include loving each other as he loves us. This is the way to nurture a love relationship with the Lord. Yes, Jesus loves us, that we might love him and others to the Father's glory. And in such nurtured love, our joy may be complete.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." - John 14:27
I don't do roller coasters. I rode one once and almost had a heart attack. The ride up is sweet and the view is often quite gorgeous, but then comes the drop. Some people like my sons think it's such a rush, but I think I'm going to die. Life is very much like a roller coaster. There are those peaceful moments that lift us up to the sky and fill our hearts with great joy. Then the bottom falls out from underneath and we're troubled and afraid. The amusement park ride may be a rush, but real life can be a fright.
Jesus speaks about a peace that is very different than what the world offers. He doesn't promise to flatten the road ahead or fill our lives with all ups and no downs. He does promise to give us a peace that doesn't slip away when the bottom falls out. The promise was made to his disciples just before their ride with him moved into an incredible downward flight. There was no rush there; it was life at its most alarming moment, but in Jesus they were promised peace.
Do you have peace today? There is peace for anyone who rests in the all-powerful grip of the Lord. The bottom may fall, but Jesus has a tight hold on you so, "Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

"Peter asked, “Lord, why can't I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!" -- John 13:37-38
Politicians offer you the world to get into office. They will commit themselves to almost anything and often believe they can produce. Then in the face of reality they realize that they don't have what it takes to succeed. Their promises are just too great.
Peter also spoke before thinking. His confidence was totally in the wording "I will". He was self assured that he was able to fulfill the most demanding sacrifice for Jesus. Yet, when the day arrived he found that he didn't have what it takes to succeed. Peter's promise was just too great.
Are you sure of yourself my friend? Do you really believe that you would lay down your life for Jesus? Or do you know that only by his strength can you hope to accomplish anything for him? Before you make promises to die for the Lord, why not just make a commitment to live for him today? By his grace, that's a promise that you can keep.

Monday, June 10, 2013

"I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them." - John 13:15-17

Every generation strives to rise above the previous one with greater achievements and lifestyles. When I was younger, we talked about a future 32-hour workweek with oodles of time for fun. Some futuristic thinkers saw life with robotic servants. We looked for better, brighter and of course, easier days ahead.
The same phenomenon exists in the Christian life. My church life, my devotional life or my ministry life needs to be better, brighter and of course, easier than my predecessors. Yet, our Lord brings us back to the basics. He sets a timeless example of what ministry is, and always should be about. We are servants, and we are called to serve in the same way that our Master served. Not better, brighter or easier; just the same.
 What is your goal today? Are you looking to be served, or are you seeking to serve others, just like Jesus? The example is before you, and "Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them".

Sunday, June 9, 2013

"Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue;  for they loved human praise more than praise from God." -- John 12:42-43
The political world troubles me on many levels. One area that seems quite unacceptable is when someone with clear and long standing convictions changes them for the popular vote. When this happens often enough such individuals lose their credibility. These are people who love the praise of men over personal beliefs.
The above phenomenon is not reserved to the political realm. Jesus dealt with those who experienced true belief in him but were too afraid to express their faith. Their convictions were certain, but their cowardice was crippling. How sad when believers in Jesus love human praise more than praise from God.
How about you my friend? Does everyone in your world know that you are a believer in Christ? Without being obnoxious, have you made your faith known with courage and clarity? Have you been willing to suffer persecution or humiliation rather than hide your convictions? Make the right choice and love the praise of God more than the praise of men.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

"Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me." - John 12:23-26

I am not a gardener nor the son of one. Although as a young boy, I sold flower seeds in the spring to earn prizes from the Scout magazine. The seeds were neatly packed in envelopes with pictures of beautiful flowers. In each small envelope, were found seeds that produced flowers, but only if they were planted. Seeds on the shelf are nothing more than that.
So it is with life. Jesus didn't come to just live a good life. He came to intentionally die that we might eternally live. In turn he calls us to serve by following his example. Like seeds, Jesus wants us to plant ourselves in this life and not remain on the shelf. Yes, when we are planted in his service, our own agendas and selfish plans die, but the beauty of his grace and glory blossoms.
Will you step out of your little envelope, and be planted? Will you be used of the Lord to "produce many seeds"? In whose life will you plant yourself today? Seeds left on the shelf never produce anything.

Friday, June 7, 2013

 “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?”- John 12:5
Every church board meeting brings out a wide variety of thoughts. There is rarely a project or ministry that doesn't lead to many ways to achieve the goal. An old joke says, for every three board members there are four opinions. But you will find, that at the heart of every proposal is motive.
In this passage of John we meet Mary and Judas. Mary is willing to expend an entire wealth of ointment to express her devotion and love. Judas suggested that a better use would be found in caring for the poor. While both ideas were commendable, only one was was pure in heart. Mary was overwhelmed with gratitude and love while Judas was bound by selfishness and greed. At the heart of each proposal was motive.
You may not be as duplicitous as Judas, but your service and stewardship for the Lord will often walk on feet of clay. Time spent evaluating our sincerity, devotion and love quotient can make all the difference in how we minister. While our ideas may certainly sound wise and solid, we would do well to always double check our motive.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

"When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." - John 11:32
I recently read a book entitled, "The Collected 'WHAT IF?' - Eminent Historians Imagine What Might Have Been". It's a long title, but a much longer book of thought provoking content. "If" is a small word with a big "might of been." Historians may question the movements of the past, but is it right for believers to question the movements of the Lord? Would life have been better "if" God had only intervened?
Martha and Mary suffered tremendous grief, not to mention the illness and death of poor Lazarus. God was fully aware of the heartache and pain, but had plans for both grace and glory. The Lord purposed this death to bring the grace of resurrection and "God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it" (verse 4). "If" Jesus had been there, this plan would not have unfolded and history would have lost a true story of timeless consolation.
Has the painful events of your life caused you to say, "Lord, if you had been here"? My friend, never doubt the one who has promised to never leave you. Never doubt that your Lord is at work in ways beyond your understanding. There are no "ifs" in the plans of God. From one man's death Jesus sent the message across the ages... “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die." (verse 25)  His question still stands... "Do you believe this?”

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

“But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.” -- John 11:4-6
How often have you prayed for the Lord's intervention only to be left waiting? Did you wonder, if only for a fleeting moment, if God really loved you? Were you filled with various questions concerning God's intentions? And did you struggle with God's timing, which called for patience and faith?
This event is commonly heard at funerals with the resurrection promise highlighted. But, rarely do we hear an emphasis on the Lord's waiting for two days. The situation was clear; Jesus knew the need, made His plan and loved His friends. All of the above worked together for God's glory, while at the same time demanding great patience and faith from Martha and Mary.
The end of the day brought a miraculous work of God that rocked Martha's, Mary's and Lazarus' world. The next time you find yourself waiting on God for an answer to prayer my friend, remember... He loves you, and has a serious plan for His glory and your faith. Give Him time and trust Him, because He knows what He's doing!!
   

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” -- John 10:27-30
The well known insurance company slogan "You're in good hands with Allstate" has been around since 1950. The original thought originated from the company commitment to the insured individual. The safety and welfare of clients was of utmost importance to Allstate. Where else can we find such security today?
Security is a very significant word that springs from this passage. Jesus wanted to convey to his followers the thought of protection and provision for all eternity. Like sheep who rest in the ever faithful and watchful care of their shepherd, Jesus carries his flock in his powerful, yet gentle hands... hands that were pierced for them.
How is it possible for you to be fearful in the face of eternity? If you belong to the Good Shepherd, you are someone for whom he laid his life down. Since his hands were pierced for you and still took death by the throat in victory, are they not sufficient to hold you firmly forever? Be secure my friend... be eternally secure!

Monday, June 3, 2013

"... He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice." - John 10:3-4
If it's not bad enough that we have been reduced to mere numbers by most companies that we deal with, others can never get our names right. I get mail every day, addressed to Mr. Jimmie Sant, Mr. Sant Van, Mr. Van J. Sant and other mind-boggling mistakes. Does anyone, other my dear wife and children, really know my name?
Well, there is someone who not only knows my name, but also cares for me in a very personal way. He knows when I lay down to sleep and when I wake. He greets me in the morning, having already been there to prepare the way. "He" is Jesus, the Good Shepherd. I'm not a number to him, because I am one of his sheep, and there is no greater encouragement in life.
If Jesus is not your Shepherd today, He is calling you by name, to a brand new life. If Jesus is your Shepherd today, he is calling you by name, into a whole new day. He has gone ahead of you and simply asks that you follow him. He has laid down his life for you so "you may have life, and have it to the full" (verse 10). Jesus is calling... just listen to his voice and follow HIM.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

"Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?” Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains." - John 9:39-41

When I grew up, Doctors would visit the home when you were sick, and today we visit them. When I was young, I was rarely interested in having such a visit. Little has changed over the years, because I would rather be healthy any day, than need to visit a medical professional. But when I'm hurting... I get my tired old bones up and off we go to get better. If I'm sick, I go to the Doc.
The real issue is not who makes the visit, but that the visit is made. When we are sick we need a physician. Going deeper though, is the question of whether we are willing to admit that we are sick. It's the same with our spiritual sickness. Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin". In other words, if you will admit to your blind and sin-sick condition, there is a cure. If you're sick... go to the Doc.
You may be separated from God because you're sick with sin. You may know the Lord and still be sick with sin. As long as "you claim you can see, your guilt remains". Jesus came as the Great Physician "so that the blind will see". If you're willing to admit to your illness, there is a cure in Jesus.  If you're sick... go to the Doc!!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

"As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work." -- John 9:4
Every morning, Monday through Friday, parkways across this land are jam packed with people headed to work. Then, as evening approaches, those same people make their way back home after a busy day. While time passes and progress leads to great change, the work day remains much the same. The majority of people work "as long as it is day".
Some have called it the "Puritan Work Ethic", but the idea of working hard was embraced by our Lord long before there were Puritan Divines. He came to do all the work given by the Father in heaven while it was day. He led a focused life of productive effort accomplishing the tasks assigned. The Lord knew that night was coming "when no one can work."
How diligent are you in the work of the Lord? Have you a clear sense of his purpose for your life? Time flies for everyone of us and the night is coming. Will you be able to say that you made the most of the "day" you were given to accomplish the task assigned to you by the Lord? Work hard my friend, because "today" is the only promise you have.