Saturday, April 29, 2017

Specimen or significant?

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life." -- John 12:24-25
For quite some time I had a small robin's egg on my office shelf. It was abandoned and lifeless when I found it. The eggshell looked cute, but while it remained intact it failed to bring forth life. So it set on my shelf as a specimen.
As Jesus noted, when we choose to live to ourselves, unwilling to give up our protective shell, we can never bring life into the world. When we are willing to lose our lives for the sake of the gospel, there will be significant fruit. We will no longer be a specimen.
Are you satisfied with your protective shell my friend? Will you live out your life on a small shelf somewhere just being seen but never producing fruit? Don't live your life as a specimen, be significant for Jesus.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Grace to forgive...

"And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses." - Mark 11:25
During my early school days I made a clay submarine in art class. It was placed in a kiln and fired hard and shiny. It looked like the real thing with the appearance of sea water on the hull. While it looked quite authentic, I still desired a couple of improvements, but it was hardened beyond change. 
The unforgiving heart is like a kiln to clay. While the Lord desires to forgive us and form us into something beautiful, a hardened heart gets in the way of the Master's handiwork. When our prayers come from a forgiving heart we evidence true repentance and are open to the transforming grace of God.
Our prayer life depends on the grace of God my friend. All that we ask of Him, from beginning to end, always comes from His marvelous grace. But when we are bitter and unforgiving we grow hard and hinder the work of that grace. Be a person of grace to others so you can be blessed by the grace of your heavenly Father.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Be productive for Jesus!

"And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs." - Mark 11:13
At the beginning of every baseball game both teams look like winners. Their uniforms are clean and pressed and their cleats are crisp and sharp to grip the field for a stellar game. From all appearances the game should produce amazing scores for both teams. But quite often the outcome will be disastrous for one or the other competitor. Looks never guarantee fruit.
While the reader might find the encounter of Jesus with the fig tree a puzzle, the illustrated point is quite clear. As with the leaf bearing fruitless tree, so were God's people of that day. From a distance they looked real good, but up close there was only emptiness. Spiritual looks never guarantees spiritual fruit.
You might be well prepared for this coming Sunday my friend. But. it doesn't always matter how you dress or how you look. What really matters is a life of spiritual fruit. Don't just be satisfied with the pinstripes on your uniform or green leaves on your limbs... it's all about the hits and the fruit. Be productive for Jesus!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Faithful servants...

"The first came before him, saying, Lord, your mina has made ten minas more. And he said to him, Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities. And the second came, saying, Lord, your mina has made five minas. And he said to him, And you are to be over five cities." - Luke 19:16-19
A weekly periodical recently covered the growth of individual salaries over the last few years. While the increased income followed the cost of living, it also came as a result of increased career responsibility. The concept is timeless; to those who are most faithful, much more is entrusted.
The Lord gave us a prophetic picture to motivate us as we serve Him. In this life we are all given individual opportunities to serve. As we prove faithful in our calling here, there will be even greater opportunity in eternity. It's also important to note; we are accountable only for our stewardship, not that which belongs to another. 
My friend, the Lord has given us gifts and opportunities to further His kingdom. Faithful servants never hide their gifts or wait for better days. They serve today with all their heart and look for greater opportunities when the Savior returns. God's highest honor is reserved for those who have been FAITHFUL... will that be you? 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Events that are certain...

"And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished." - Luke 18:31
Every season we have a number of weather predictions that fail to crystallize. During the last few years we have had various economic predictions that have fallen through. Along with these mistaken forecasts came the "end of the world" prediction by a radio Bible teacher that led many people astray. Is there any foreseen event that is certain?
Jesus presented the Words of the prophets as precise events that would be fulfilled in His life. He specifically stated that "everything" about the Son of Man was to be accomplished. As we read the rest of the Gospel account we find His words to be true with exact detail. Biblical prophecies are foreseen events that are certain.
Is it to our benefit to learn and understand the prophetic Word my friend? Since "everything" about the Son of Man was fulfilled in His first coming, His second coming will be just as certain. As Peter says in 2 Peter 1:19, "And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention..." Yes, "pay attention", live in expectation and be ready.

Monday, April 24, 2017

No effort overlooked...

"And he said to them, 'Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.'" - Luke 18:29-30
As troops return home from the middle east they are looking for employment. The policy at many businesses will give veterans the first crack at job openings. While there are some who would complain about this approach the question is; have these people not earned a great deal by the sacrifices they have made for their country?
After all is said about sacrificial living for the sake of Christ, will there be recognition in eternity? Will the Lord really honor those who honor Him in His coming kingdom? The answer is a resounding yes as we read the above promise. No effort for the Lord is ever lost or overlooked.
Do you grow weary or discouraged over demanding labor for the Lord my friend? Consider the promising words of our Lord and the encouraging thoughts of the following poem by C.T. Studd ... 

 ONLY ONE LIFE, TWILL SOON BE PAST

“Two little lines I heard one day,
Traveling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart,
And from my mind would not depart;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one,
Soon will its fleeting hours be done;
Then, in ‘that day’ my Lord to meet,
And stand before His Judgement seat;
Only one life,’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, the still small voice,
Gently pleads for a better choice
Bidding me selfish aims to leave,
And to God’s holy will to cleave;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, a few brief years,
Each with its burdens, hopes, and fears;
Each with its clays I must fulfill,
living for self or in His will;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

When this bright world would tempt me sore,
When Satan would a victory score;
When self would seek to have its way,
Then help me Lord with joy to say;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Give me Father, a purpose deep,
In joy or sorrow Thy word to keep;
Faithful and true what e’er the strife,
Pleasing Thee in my daily life;
Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Oh let my love with fervor burn,
And from the world now let me turn;
Living for Thee, and Thee alone,
Bringing Thee pleasure on Thy throne;
Only one life, “twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Only one life, yes only one,
Now let me say,”Thy will be done”;
And when at last I’ll hear the call,
I know I’ll say “twas worth it all”;
Only one life,’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

Only one life, ’twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
And when I am dying, how happy I’ll be,
If the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee.”

- C.T Studd

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Truly Devoted...

“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’“‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. “Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you." -- Matthew 21:28-31
I had a friend some years ago that would argue to great lengths to explain why he wouldn't or couldn't do some task requested of him. It was a curiosity though, that on just about every occasion he came around and quietly did the work. On the other hand, there have been a vast number of committee members in every circle of my life that have failed to fulfill their assigned tasks after accepting them. Which of the two were truly devoted?
Living for the Kingdom of God is far more than saying the right thing. Jesus pointed out that one needs to walk the talk, not just talk the walk. The walk does not provide entrance into the kingdom; it only verifies that one has been truly changed from within by the Spirit of God. Saying you've been changed and showing you've been changed are two different things. Which of the two are truly devoted?
You may have grown up in a church and may know the right lingo. But, has your heart been changed by Jesus? And if your heart is new in Christ, does your obedient walk evidence this fact? Some church goers have passive "religious" ties and some have active "relational" ties. Which of the two are truly devoted?

Saturday, April 22, 2017

A little louder please ...

"As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!" The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!" Jesus stopped and called them. "What do you want me to do for you?" he asked. "Lord," they answered, "we want our sight." Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him." -- Matthew 20:29-34
When I was a little guy, the Ice Cream truck would come around our neighborhood every day during the summer. I would be given money to buy something, but I was told not to yell for the truck; I was to be polite and call out in a normal tone of voice. Needless to say, I missed out on ice cream more often than not. Sometimes you just have to speak a little louder.
Along with all the teachings our Lord gave about prayer, we find a perfect example on this occasion. Two blind men would not give up, nor would they tone it down. They wanted to see and Jesus was able to do the job. They shouted and the crowd was irritated, but the Lord had compassion. He honors those who pray without ceasing and give it all they have. Sometimes you just have to speak a little louder.
Has the ice cream truck passed you by too many times? Do you wonder if your prayer life is what is should be? Pray, and don't give up. Pray, and open you your heart to the full. Keep on asking, seeking and knocking; for the Lord will have compassion when the world would have you give up. Sometimes you just have to speak a little louder.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Unfair?

"Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’ So the last will be first, and the first last." - Matthew 20:15-16
Some years ago I entered a fast food restaurant with my family and thought that I was at the back of a line. When the next register was open I began to move up when I heard the loudest outcry that I ever experienced in a public place. "Hey, that's not FAIR!!" Apparently I had failed to notice this person lingering in the back and didn't realize that they were waiting to be served. I quickly stepped aside because I would never want to be "unfair".
What exactly is "fair" in this life? And on what basis do we believe that everything should be "fair"? The account that Jesus relates in this passage clearly reveals the freedom that God has to deal with his servants as he chooses. He is generous beyond belief and yet there are those who will always complain that the Good Lord is somehow "unfair". The Lord's call is to be faithful and his promise is to provide for our needs. While "the last will be first, and the first last" may seem "unfair", in everything the Lord is always generous.
Who knows our needs better than the Lord who created us and shows us his care? The Scripture says it best in Romans 8:32, "He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" Be careful when you accuse the Lord of not being "fair" my friend. He loves you and pours out his grace every day with divine generosity.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Paying Attention...

“See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.” And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” -- Mark 10:33-36
Have you ever listened to a political interview? The reporter asks a particular question and the candidate responds with an entirely different answer. His mind was on the subject matter that he wanted to discuss and he ignored the reporter. He wasn't paying attention.
Jesus spoke of a series of dramatic events that would fall into place in a short time. These moments would be painful, challenging and life changing for everyone. Yet, in the very midst of this revelation James and John were focused on their own selfish desires. As a result, they totally missed the Lord's message. They weren't paying attention.
Do you ever come away from your devotions, Bible study or worship having missed the Lord's message my friend? Is it possible that He was speaking quite clearly, but you were preoccupied with your own selfish desires? In the spiritual school of life, great truths are only heard by those who pay close attention.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Where is your trust?

"And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "'How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!'" - Mark 10:23
It has been said that you can't buy happiness. It is also true that you can't buy heaven. The simple truth is money can't buy everything. It can't buy relationships, love, or peace of mind. The important things in life are just not for sale.
The possession of wealth is not as much the problem as the dependence on that wealth. While some critics have suggested that Christianity is just a crutch for the weak, I believe that wealth is far more a crutch for the worldly. Such people expect security, stability and tranquility but find no hope for eternity.
Choose your source of dependence wisely my friend. The words of Solomon In Proverbs 23:4-5 tell the tale well... "Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist. When your eyes light on it, it is gone, for suddenly it sprouts wings, flying like an eagle toward heaven." But, put your trust in the Lord alone and you will find that... "all things are possible with God".

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Like a child ...

"Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it." - Mark 10:15
Statistics tell us that conversions to Christ are fewer in number during the latter years of life. One might think that the older a person the wiser they would become and therefore more prone to believe. But, too often age brings pride and self-sufficiency. On the other hand, children generally know nothing of either deficiency.
Yes, I speak of pride and self-sufficiency as deficiencies. Anything that inhibits an individual from receiving the kingdom of God is most definitely a deficiency. All too often, the more that we know, the greater our arrogance. The more we achieve, the greater our independence. Jesus came right to the point... keep it simple like a child, or you'll never get the picture of faith.
When was the last time you turned down the helping hand of someone my friend? Do you wonder why you did that? Was it really because you didn't want to impose? Or was it a deeper issue of personal pride and self-sufficiency? Accepting the helping hand of the Lord and embracing his grace demands nothing more and nothing less than a child-like faith.

Monday, April 17, 2017

First?

"And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first." -- Matthew 19:29-30
During the difficult days of economic tailspin, stories of greed were rampant. We read about officers of large companies that continued to receive rather large annual salaries without making any sacrifice for the greater cause. When asked if they are worthy of such exorbitant remuneration, we were told that their value exceeded the average worker exponentially. Will the "first" of today still be "first" in eternity?
Jesus spoke the above words after a provoking exchange with a young man of great wealth who was unwilling to give it up to follow Jesus. The disciples were in question about the life that sacrifices all for the Lord. Does God ultimately honor those who honor him? Jesus made it clear that when we give up temporal pleasures for the kingdom, eternal pleasures will be ours in abundance. The "last" of today will be the "first" in eternity.
God is all about the bigger picture, are you? Wisdom should lead us to focus on eternity and willingly sacrifice for the kingdom of God. The wealth of today will soon be gone, or certainly be left behind as we move on to our eternal future. Though you may be considered "last" in this life, when you follow Jesus with all your heart, you will be "first" in heaven.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Sin sick...

"He said to them, 'Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.'" - Matthew 19:8
Loopholes! Our entire legal system spends massive dollars and hours seeking various "loopholes" to allow loose behavior. The laws that were intended to bring order and stability to life seem to be unacceptable to our self focused nature. The truth is; right living rules are hard because sin sick hearts are hard.
The institution of marriage was and still is abused and mistreated. In today's world, the marital vow, as many promises and contracts of life, are breakable. Moses allowed divorce, but from the beginning God intended the wedding vow to be life long. As a matter of fact, the Lord expects us to keep our word in every circumstance. So, why aren't we faithful? The answer is simple; hard sin-sick hearts.
The best rule of life is to look for God's heart in every promise and be faithful my friend. The Lord's original plan intended that our marriages were meant to last. Loopholes were never part of a God honoring life. Remember the words of Solomon in Ecclesiastes 5:4-5, "When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay."

Saturday, April 15, 2017

What if?

“Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died... Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” ~ John 11:21, 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."  Some 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?”

Friday, April 14, 2017

Don't live in the past ...

"Remember Lot’s wife." - Luke 17:32
Alzheimer's disease is very tragic. I have observed this condition in the lives of loved ones and friends. One of the issues of this type of memory loss is the way someone can remember events from many years ago and yet they can't remember what they had for breakfast. They basically live in the past.
In like manner with the words above, Jesus warns us not to live in the past. When we surrender our lives to the Lord and follow Him, we need to stay focused on the present and future for God. The past is gone and needs to to stay that way, but many Christians carry on in life with a condition of spiritual Alzheimer's disease.
Take counsel from Lot's wife and Paul's words in Philippians 3:13 my friend... "But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead". Stop living in the past and take hold life by the horns for Jesus. Redeem the time and "press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14).

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Make the right choice ...

"And he said to them, 'You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God  knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.'" - Luke 16:15
Over the last few years there have been an unending parade of CEOs who have received attention due to exorbitant salaries and bonuses. No matter how many critics have spoken out, these individuals always find a way to justify themselves. While the average citizen has serious question about such justifications, one wonders what the One who searches our hearts thinks.
Priorities and values differ in life. There are those who live for the moment and monetary gain who are willing to sacrifice everything to get just a little bit more. These people are the "Mad Men" of our day who give more excuses than one can count. Yet the Lord brings it home as He points out the stark contrast between the values of men and the values of the One who knows our hearts.
There is absolutely no excuse or justification to place monetary gain over spiritual values my friend. Jesus said it clearly in verse 13, "You cannot serve God and money". It's quite simple: serving God brings Him the greatest glory and serving money brings Him even greater sorrow. Make the right choice; embrace spiritual values and serve the Lord with all your heart. The Lord will be abundantly pleased and your dividends will be eternally plentiful.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Love and Grace ...

"I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.'" - Luke 15:18-19
Failure is never easy to deal with or get beyond. We often believe that there must be a cost to be forgiven and restored. We rarely expect the one that we failed to allow us a new beginning. The way of the world tends to be unforgiving because there is very little love and grace.
This story reveals a similar attitude in the heart of the offending son. He planned to return home, only looking for a job as a hired servant. He was hoping that he might receive simple employment and nothing more, because that was the way of his world. Little did he realize that his father was waiting with a heart full of love and grace.
Have you recently failed the Lord my friend? Are you expecting to be turned away in your request to be restored? Or do you believe the price of forgiveness will be quite demanding? And if you are forgiven will you be given the opportunity to begin again? As the young son found out, so will you... your heavenly Father is waiting with a heart of love and grace.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A Few Good ....

"For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?... So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple." - Luke 14:28, 33
One motto for the United States Marine Corp is "We're Looking of a Few good Men". We all know what that phrase really means. They are looking for those who will give their absolute best effort for the Corp. With that knowledge no one signs on the dotted line without carefully counting the cost.
Jesus is looking for a "Few Good Men" in his pursuit of disciples. He isn't looking for people who are just going along for the ride. He isn't inviting those who want to be disciples in name only. He wants those who have counted the cost and are willing to give their "Utmost for His Highest".
Oswald Chambers entitled his devotional with the above words, "My Utmost for His Highest". Chambers caught the vision and heart of Christ's call to discipleship. Are you really a disciple of Jesus today my friend? Have you counted the cost and are you willing to go the distance?? Jesus is still looking for a "Few Good Men and Women"... that means YOU.

Monday, April 10, 2017

It's worth the effort...

"And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled." - Luke 14:23
Every day we are compelled to participate in some purchase or new financial plan. There is no end to those who would sell us the moon if given the opportunity. On one hand, some of these dear people really believe in their hype and then others are just in it for the monetary gain. But, whatever the reason, they are determined to fill their quota.
The Lord portrays the Kingdom of God as a banquet. The invitations are rejected by an ocean of excuses. Finally the direction is given to compel people from the highways and hedges to fill the house. This story has much truth to consider, but for the believer we are given a fresh call to invite others to accept our Savior's call. We believe the truth and it has given us great reason to compel others.
Paul states in 2 Corinthians 5:20, "Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God."  Be encouraged afresh my friend to "compel" and "implore" your world on behalf of Christ. It's well worth the effort!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

His way...

"But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, 'There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.'" - Luke 13:14
"Revival Here - Every Friday Night"! When you've seen such signs, what comes to mind? Do we really think the God of all creation will ever be tied to our schedules? We look for the Lord to do great things, but only on certain days and in specific ways. What makes us believe that God can be put in a box? God works miracles every day, not just Fridays... his way, not ours.
This synagogue ruler was driven by a misguided commitment to God's Sabbatical commandment. He was a strong believer in man-made additions to the Word of God. As a result, his expectations of God were terribly limited. He concluded that God would only do the miraculous six days a week. The irony of the story comes when this man sees a mighty, supernatural work of God before his very eyes, but is unmoved. By putting God in a box, he lost sight of the fact that God works miracles every day, not just six... his way, not ours.
Is your life so tightly scheduled that God has been given an appointment? In contrast to this synagogue ruler, do you expect revival only on Sundays? Will you allow God to do great things in your life, anytime and in any way? Look to Jesus today; he's doing great and mighty things, because he works miracles every day, not just Sundays... his way, not ours.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Division...

"Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division." - Luke 12:51
One week from tomorrow will be Resurrection Sunday. This will be a day of great celebration and rejoicing throughout the Christian community. A vast multitude will gather to lift up their voices in praise and worship of the risen Savior. Yet, while churches across the land will be filled with believers, there will also be a larger number who will be unmoved. 
On this day, some will have an empty tomb and a full life, and others will have a full tomb and empty life. The empty tomb is THE watershed of history. Those who have received the risen Christ are transformed by his light and those who reject him are still trembling in the darkness. The empty tomb has given undaunted faith to the believer and unending fear to the unbeliever. There can be no greater division.
When you see the golden morning sun, lit up with great splendor, are you ready for a beautiful day? Then, as you see the Son of God, risen from the dead in all his glory, embrace Him as the Lord of life and rejoice. Many will reject him to their sorrowful loss, but you my friend, choose the high road today and celebrate the One who brought division through an empty tomb!

Friday, April 7, 2017

Perhaps Today!

"You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect." - Luke 12:40
Time marches on like the great armies of history. The excitement of youth passes on to the steadiness of middle-age and eventually gives way to the apathy of latter years. "Been there and done that" becomes the adage and sigh of old age. Expectation is lost in the process of deterioration.
Our Lord has given the believer a very good reason to live every moment in expectation. He is coming again, and we have no idea when that will moment will occur. There is no time in this life to just kick back and let spiritual excitement slip into careless apathy. "Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes".
Has the passage of time taken the edge off my friend? Well, turn your eyes on Jesus and look for his dramatic and earth shattering arrival. Live every day as if it was "that day" and give it all your heart. Some say that youthfulness is only a state of mind. Jesus tells us that youthfulness is a state of expectation... Perhaps Today!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The right "stuff" ...

"Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.'" - Luke 12:15
In 2011 our family sold the home my in-laws lived in for a good many years. This was a major down sizing and we ended up renting a dumpster to achieve the goal. At first we thought the rental unit would be too large, but by the time we were done it was overflowing. The truth is; abundance of possessions isn't always a good thing.
Whether we are greedy or just hoarders, having too much of a good thing is just that; too much. This mindset can rob you of satisfaction and the pleasure of eternal values. Jesus gave a clear warning ... "Watch out! Be on your guard" Your life consists of far more important treasures than the "stuff" you accumulate.
Paul gave us considerable food for thought in 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20, "For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy."  It's not about abundance of possessions my friend, it's all about people. How many people are you accumulating for Jesus?

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Good Hands ...

"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!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Great light...

“No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.” - Luke 11:33-36
One year we traveled north for the holidays, through a heavy snow storm. Since our trip was made at night, every now and then we had to stop to clean the snow and ice off the headlights. Within a few miles the lights were once again reduced to a very dim condition. We had power and we had bulbs, but we had little light.
In the same way, when we travel through the storms of life we need good eyes. We need eyes that provide the body with light so we can shine in the darkness and not be filled with darkness. The light of Jesus brings us all the light we could ever need. The more we learn from the Lord the more light shines within. But, while we can have the availability of light, if we don't focus our eyes on Jesus, we have little light.
Simply put, the more time you spend with Jesus, the more light you will have. Do you want to shine for the Lord today? Remember that you can only shine with the light that he gives. It's what you choose to read and watch that really makes your eyes good. If you take in too much "snow" your eyes and life will be dim. But if you take in the Word and things that are worthy, your eyes will be good. Your whole life will shine in the darkness for Jesus, because you have great light.

Monday, April 3, 2017

You have to choose...

"Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters." - Luke 11:23
On the field of play the team distinction is quite simple. There are those on one team and those who are not. On the field of battle the distinction is the same. There are those who are patriots and those who are not. Apart from horseshoes, there are very few situations in life where "almost" is accepted.
As Jesus points out, spiritual matters are the very same way. No one can be on both teams or in both armies at the same time. If you are not with the Lord, you have chosen to stand against Him. If you are not gathering for the kingdom, you have chosen to scatter. When it comes to eternity, "almost" doesn't exist.
The world in which you live would like to be "gray" and ride the fence my friend. But the Lord is looking for those who will choose Him above all else. It is so stated in Ezekiel 22:30, "I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land..." The Lord desires those who will stand in the gap with Him. All others are not almost, they are simple against Him. The choice is yours... but you have to choose.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Context...

"Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come... And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you" - Luke 11:2, 9
Context! Our constitution provides us with freedom of speech. Yet, we can find ourselves in court for the crime of slander. We have the right to speak our heart whenever and wherever, but we have other laws that call for certain veracity in our claims and accusations. This is simply freedom in context.
Jesus invited us to ask, seek and knock. He promised that our requests would be granted. But we find that things don't always go the exact way that we pray. We often wonder why this occurs. The answer is found in one word... "context". When the heart is in tune with our heavenly Father and we desire nothing less than His holiness and kingdom work, our requests are made with greater precision. Then it will be given, found and opened. This is simply prayer in context.
As you begin each day my friend, take time to be tuned to your heavenly Father's heart. Make your one and foremost desire to live for the holiness and kingdom work of God. Then as the needs arise, ask, seek and knock with confidence. When Biblical truth is practiced in context, great blessing will always follow.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

One thing ...

"But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her." - Luke 10:41-42
Every season has the potential to overwhelm a person with stress. Particularly on Easter, many families will come from miles around for food and fellowship. In addition to this, special programs will often be planned at church or school. As the calendar begins to fill up, there just doesn't seem to be enough hours and days to get it all done. If we're not very careful, we will become "anxious and troubled about many things."
When the above words of counsel were given, do you think that Jesus was suggesting that food was not necessary? Or was He encouraging Martha to slow down and follow the example of Mary? Being sure that we have quality time to sit at the feet of Jesus makes every day so much easier. When we put the Lord first, everything else falls in place in just the right way.
"One thing is necessary"! In simple words my friend, let's keep the main thing, the main thing. Martin Luther put it this way, "If I fail to spend two hours in prayer each morning, the devil gets the victory through the day." Life must go on... but it always goes best when we start with Jesus.

Friday, March 31, 2017

What really matters...

"Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." - Luke 10:20
Have you ever noticed when a NASCAR race is won the driver is given the greatest attention? The car may be a superior vehicle with a well built engine. The tires may be the finest make available and the pit crew highly skilled. But at the end of the day, it's simply the name of the driver that really matters.  
In a way, our spiritual life is very much the same. We might have a super gifted life with ministry skills galore. Our accomplishments may fill a list a mile long, but the real issue is who and whose we are. The famous and not so famous still face the same question: Is your name written in heaven?
Be careful not to put so much importance on your accomplishments my friend. The most important day in your life was when you became a child of the King. And the next most important day will be when you shall see Him face to face because your name is written in heaven. Sometimes life is just that simple.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Follow HIM...

"When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice." -- John 10:4
Do you remember some trip or special occasion when you were somewhere unfamiliar? The most secure moments were when you heard familiar voices. You found great assurance when you were surrounded by your traveling companions. Being all alone can be frightening.
Life is a journey into the unknown. We need someone who will go ahead and lead the way. We need someone who calls us His own and calls us by name. We need a voice that will set us at ease and calm our fears. That someone is Jesus.
When moments press in and bring unfounded fear, where do you turn? To whom do you look when you feel lost and unsettled? Turn your eyes upon Jesus my friend, and listen to His voice as He speaks softly from His Word. As He leads the way, He calls you by name and reminds you that you're His. Follow Him and fear not.
_________________________________________________________________

JESUS LED ME ALL THE WAY
John W. Peterson, 1954

Some day life's journey will be o're.
And I shall reach that distant shore;
I'll sing while ent'ring heaven's door,
"Jesus led me all the way."

Jesus led me all the way,
Led me step by step each day;
I will tell the saints and angels as I lay my burdens down,
"Jesus led me all the way."

If God should let me there review
The winding paths of earth I knew,
It would be proven clear and true -
"Jesus led me all the way."

Jesus led me all the way,
Led me step by step each day;
I will tell the saints and angels as I lay my burdens down,
"Jesus led me all the way."

And hither to my Lord hath led,
Today He guides each step I tread;
And soon in heav'n it will be said,
"Jesus led me all the way."

Jesus led me all the way,
Led me step by step each day;
I will tell the saints and angels as I lay my burdens down,

"Jesus led me all the way."

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Only TODAY...

"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 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.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Future vision...

"Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad." - John 8:56
Some years ago I received a pair of binoculars as a birthday gift. As a result I no longer needed to pay a fee to use the ones at the park and seaside. It is always a joy to have a closer look at God's creation and these simple optical aids make that possible. 
When we consider the great patriarchs of the Older Testament, we often wonder what they understood about God's future plan. Were they only aware of a few details that needed to be connected over time? Or were they given spiritual optical aids to see the future more clearly? This passage tells us that they knew a great deal about the future and it brought them reason to rejoice.
Through faithful study of the Scriptures you too can have a view of the future my friend. God has provided spiritual optical aid through a vast number of prophetic writings. Why is it important that we read them you might ask? Consider the joy that Abraham had when he saw the future coming of Messiah. This joy can also be yours when you envision His second coming and Kingdom reign.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Free indeed...

"Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." -- John 8:34-36
Over the years I've ministered to various people who have suffered from substance abuse. For a very long time they believe that they are not addicted. They would say, "It's just one drink, now and then". I grew up with family members that would have "just one drink, now and then." The truth was they were slaves to alcohol.
It doesn't matter how you package it, when you're addicted, you're a slave. We are sinners by nature and by action, and "everyone who sins is a slave to sin". You can deceive yourself by saying, "It's just one sin, now and then", but you're addicted. Freedom will only come to those who admit their condition and turn to the Son of God to set them free.
Will you stop and be true to yourself my friend? "... A slave has no permanent place in the family of God, but a son belongs to it forever." Sin must be admitted before freedom and a place in the family can be granted. Do you want to continue in life as a slave, or do you want to be "free indeed"?

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Light up your life...

"Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  - John 8:12
I own more flashlights than most. I'm not afraid of the dark, but I want to see where I'm walking and be able to read my books during a power failure. I prefer battery-operated flashlights. I know some people who are sold on the "shake it to light it" type. The interesting fact is, whether the light is run by battery, shaking or even cranking ... the light finally goes out. You will eventually walk in darkness.
So it is with every man-made source of light for the soul. We live in darkness and we will die in darkness because our self-powered lights will always go out. The only hope for lasting light is to find the true "Eveready" or "Diehard" source of light, and it's not the Energizer Bunny!
The truth is, that Jesus is the light that never fails. He doesn't need shaking, cranking or new and better batteries. He alone will light the way of every soul that follows Him. You don't need to walk in darkness today. Come to Jesus and He will ... "light up your life" ...  forever!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Divided...

"Thus the people were divided because of Jesus." -- John 7:43
People are divided for many reasons. Some hold different political views, others have different ethnic backgrounds and still others differ on social issues. There are those who will even fight for their favorite ball team. Still, none of the above can divide the entire human race.
Our verse for thought is factual and profoundly timeless. While no small passing issue can divide everyone for all time, Jesus does. He is the eternal watershed that divides all mankind. This is clearly stated in John 3:18, "Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned". There it is; Jesus is the Mason-Dixon Line of history. There are those who believe and those who don't believe. The entire human race is divided because of Jesus.
What about you my friend? You have chosen or will choose to believe or not to believe and your eternal future lies in the balance. This is not a minor issue that you can ignore until it goes away. Every day you check the date on a calendar that is broken at the coming of Christ; B.C. and A.D. As time, so people, some are without Christ and some are with Christ... which are you?

Friday, March 24, 2017

Living Water...

“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” - John 7:37-38
"Poland Spring", "Crystal Spring", "Saratoga Spring" and "Spring of Life" are just a few names for drinking water companies. The names elicit thoughts of fresh, rushing, mountain springs of cool refreshing water. The thought of such waterways almost quenches the thirst by the very idea. We are never moved in the same way with stagnant water from a city reservoir. Our thirst is best quenched by living water.
In truth, we are all aware that many water bottles are processed far from any mountain spring. But, we still raise the bottle to our lips with hopes that we have a small slice of the great outdoors. In contrast the Lord offers all who believe the real deal for their souls. He invites those who are thirsty to come and drink of living waters. He doesn't quench the thirst of the soul with old stagnant water. He promises fresh water, and He offers us water that will flow deep and wide like a river.
Does your soul feel dry and parched my friend? Have you tried the bottles of man-made water that have that stagnant taste that never satisfies? Well, come to Jesus and experience the wonderful outpouring of His Holy Spirit within your heart. Your thirst will be more than quenched with living water that flows deep and wide like a river.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

God's Will...

"If anyone's will is to do God's will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority." -- John 7:17
Have you ever gotten lost? Was it due to someone giving you wrong directions? Or was your GPS miscalculating? Well, no matter how sincere we may be, wrong directions will get us lost every time. While this maxim may always be true, when we genuinely desire the Lord's direction, we will always find His way.
Jesus spoke to those that questioned his teaching. He revealed this truth; that when you're willing to do God's will you will know His leading. His path will open before you like a wide open country road. Those who might worry about missing the way as they seek the Lord's leading should take this to heart and move forward with utmost confidence.
Are you seeking the will of God in your daily walk? Is His leading first and foremost in your mind? But, do you fear that you might lose your way my friend? Have no fear; God will never lead astray those who have a willing heart to do His will. "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you." - Psalm 32:8

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Forgiveness...

“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ -- Matthew 18:32-33 
What's the difference between a silk flower and a real one? A lot! Depth and texture are hard to reproduce, but some have come close. Yet, the distinct floral fragrance is just not going to happen. The real deal has a God given scent that most people find quite pleasant. Silk flowers may look nice, but you'll never get out, what hasn't been put in by God.
In the same way, forgiveness is a Christian fragrance. Paul gave instructions to the believers in Ephesus to, "live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." (Ephesians 5:2) God loved us so much that he forgave us for a lifetime of sin. When we face the offense of another, shouldn't we have mercy as the Lord has had on us? This is one significant difference between a religious person and a true believer. The believer has been forgiven in love and exudes a fragrance of loving forgiveness toward others.
Are you a forgiving person? Just as you can't find fragrance in a silk flower, you'll never have a fragrance of forgiveness if you're just religious. But, if you're the real deal, you have been given a scent of loving forgiveness as the Lord forgave you, "while you were still a sinner". (Romans 5:8) If you refuse to forgive, one of two facts are true. You have never been born again as a forgiven child of God, or you are living in sin. Be a flower from God every day my friend and "live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Back to the basics...

"At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, 'Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?''... Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'" - Matthew 18:1, 4
"Fortune 500", "Success", "Smart Money", "Fortune", "Upscale", "The Prosper Magazine" and "Fast Company" are a number of periodicals that regularly highlight business success. If these weren't enough to boil the pot, you will find any number of articles in Christian periodicals that emphasize the pursuit of "Christian Success". The question continues to haunt us ... "Who is the greatest?" 
"We've come a long way Baby" from the teachings of Jesus. Today, rather than teaching the multitudes on a hillside or from a fishing boat, we need a Crystal Cathedral. Instead of washing the feet of our friends we sit together and sip our Lattes in the church Jacuzzi. But Jesus lifted up a child and pointed to child-like humility and simplicity as the true path to kingdom success. We need to get back to the basics.
What are your priorities my friend? Are you so driven by the pursuit of worldly success that you're of little heavenly good? Do you even remember the days of child-like faith that changed your life? Where have the joys and satisfaction gone that came from simple Bible study, prayer and serving others? Let's find greatness in being a child again and get back to the basics.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Real life...

"On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. And behold, a man from the crowd cried out, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son, for he is my only child." - Luke 9:37-38
Vacations are great, but eventually they end. Work awaits and the daily routine demands our attention. Even in retirement the demands of daily life call upon us when we return from trips to see grandchildren and other enjoyable diversions. Special occasions and getaways are important for good health and emotional well-being, but real life is what we are all about.
In the same way, we need to have spiritual retreats and special times with our Lord. Such occasions may be a week away at a Christian camp or Sunday celebration at church. Then again, it could be the simple but refreshing devotional time alone with the Lord every morning. But when we "come down from the mountain" the daily routine demands our attention and ministry to others is waiting. The truth is, times with Lord fill us up so we can be ready to tackle real life for Jesus.
Do you often wish that your mountain top experiences could be the norm my friend? If they were, who would bring the Lord's blessings to those in need? Paul said in 2 Corinthians 1:4 that the Lord "comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction". Be sure to take special times of refreshment with the Lord, but "come down from the mountain" ready to tackle real life for Jesus.     

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Just Ask...

"But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it." - Mark 9:32
How often were we told by our teachers not to be afraid to ask questions? How many questions did we ask? There are so many reasons why we don't ask questions when we are in doubt. Sometimes we are too proud, sometimes too embarrassed and sometimes too afraid. But whenever we fail to ask, we fail to learn.
The disciples were walking with the Lord Jesus day by day. He taught them great truths that changed their lives and his wisdom was beyond measure. What a wonderful opportunity to ask the Lord about everything they ever wondered about. Yet, they were afraid to ask about the Lord's death and resurrection. The result was tremendous sadness and frustration during the days of his Crucifixion and resurrection. I often wonder if they would have been better prepared by having asked questions. Whenever we fail to ask, we fail to learn.
The Lord has opened a door of opportunity for us in the words of Matthew 7:7, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you" and James added in James 1:5, "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." Be confident to ask, and you will grow in your understanding. Be willing to ask, and you will be certain to learn.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

He can fix it...

"And Jesus said to him, 'If you can! All things are possible for one who believes.' Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, 'I believe; help my unbelief!'" - Mark 9:23-24
When my vehicle is in need of repair I take it to the auto shop. I walk in, tell my tale of woe, hand them the keys and sit down in the waiting room. Usually, in a short time the car is back to normal and I'm on the road again. I take my auto needs to those in whom I have confidence because I believe they can fix the problem.
For this father belief in the ability of Jesus was his first hurdle. The Lord dealt with the issue as quickly as the words were spoken. "All things are possible for one who believes." The response was one of great wisdom, "I believe, help my unbelief". In the face of struggles and storms we can always come to Jesus. But we need to have confidence that He can fix the problem.
Are you in the waiting room, resting in the power and abilities of Jesus my friend? Have you placed your life with all its hardships in his capable hands? When doubt raises its ugly head remember to "TRUST in the Lord with ALL YOUR HEART, and do not lean on your own understanding" (Proverbs 3:5). Join this father in prayer with the simple request, "I believe; help my unbelief".

Friday, March 17, 2017

Listen to Him!

"While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”"  -- Matthew 17:5
When a presidential inauguration comes about, people travel from miles around to participate and observe. There are a vast number of speakers and the program is filled with inspiring moments. While the entire event is quite an experience, only one person is the ultimate focus... the newly elected president. People from all around the world listen to him.
Peter, James and John were overwhelmed with the appearance of Moses and Elijah with Jesus and they were greatly inspired. Peter suggested they have three booths erected for each important personality. But the heavenly Father responded with clarity... "This is my Son... Listen to Him". Many people make the same mistake today as they see various Bible characters as equally inspiring, yet only one person should be the ultimate focus. Jesus alone is the Son of God, so listen to him!
There may be many books on your shelf today, but only one book has the message of life. There may be many people that bless your life, but only one person is the way, truth and life. At the end of the day my friend, choose to be a person of one book and one person. Heed the voice of your heavenly Father, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”