Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Who have you been with?

"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.

Monday, June 26, 2017

God grows the flower...

"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.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Cut to the heart...

“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". 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Our foremost purpose...

"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 Outback. 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 gifts, regularly exercise them and seek the one foremost purpose: glorify God by proclaiming his mighty works. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

"Be Pray-pared"...

"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".

Thursday, June 22, 2017

A simple meal...

"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-nine 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 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.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Mountain tops...

"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."

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

By name ...

"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.

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Key...

"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 an audio set that promised to open a whole new world of foreign language. This set was 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 an audio set 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.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Is He really wanted?

"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.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Friday or Sunday outlook?

“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.

Friday, June 16, 2017

"...to Completion!"

"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.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

God NEVER fails...

"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

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Who is your King?

"... 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?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The long run...

"... '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.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Never the same again...

"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.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Stand your ground...

"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. 

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Our Substitute...

"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.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Lasting peace...

"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. 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Finally torn...

"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.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Courage...

"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?

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Never secure!

"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.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Responsible?

"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.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Make the right call...

"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.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Our ballistic vest...

"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.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Our Companion...

“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)

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Patience to wait...

“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)

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Abide in HIS Love...

"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
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 master 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.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

We can only remember...

"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 14:26
I 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.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Empty promises...

"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.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Success or Service???

"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?

Saturday, May 27, 2017

He cares for you...

"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.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Average human beings...

"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.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

All things...

"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 flooded 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."

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Do we care?

"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?

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Conviction... AND Courage...

"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.

Monday, May 22, 2017

A beautiful thing...

"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."

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Actions reflect identity...

"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?

Saturday, May 20, 2017

God's plan is always best...

"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.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Sing ...

"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.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Wrong choices ...

"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.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

To Him...

"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.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Take care...

"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".

Monday, May 15, 2017

Foolish?

"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.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Talker or doer?

“Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes." - Matthew 24:45-46
"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.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

"Perhaps today" ...

“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, 27
I 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".

Friday, May 12, 2017

Blocking the "Son"shine...

"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.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Small things...

"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.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Priceless and Timeless...

"Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away." - Luke 21:33
In the summer of 2011 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.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

For the Love of Giving...

"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
In the competitive world of politics every candidate is put under the magnifying glass. Whenever election year rolls around the public suddenly becomes concerned with integrity, morality and charitable generosity. One area of interest is the pattern of church donations made by such 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